Category: Efficiency

Western Administrator Keynotes Rocky Mountain Utility Efficiency Exchange

Western Administrator Mark Gabriel

Western Administrator Mark Gabriel

Western Area Power Administration Administrator Mark Gabriel and Colorado Energy Office Director Jeff Ackermann will keynote the 7th Annual Rocky Mountain Utility Efficiency Exchange Oct 9-11, 2013, in Aspen, CO.  More than 80 presenters are expected to join them for this year’s event. The general, breakout and poster sessions will explore case study best practices and lessons learned from those who develop, implement and evaluate utility customer programs dealing with energy and water efficiency, renewable energy, demand response and key account customer management.

The Rocky Mountain Exchange is a networking and professional development forum for about 100 utility and
government organization professionals as well as trade allies who provide products and services to support utility customer programs. The conference provides general and breakout sessions as well as networking opportunities.

Cook solar: California employees get sun-cooked snacks

Solar cooker

Administrative Assistant Kelly Rider under the Miracorp contract adjusts a "solar panel" on her homemade solar cooker while cooking beans to share with her coworkers in Folsom, Calif., May 1. Solar cooking is an easy, cheap, environmentally friendly and fun way to cook food and snacks using only the sun for power.

As part of the Sierra Nevada Earth Day celebration in California, Western employees partook in a scrumptious snack prepared entirely by the sun and a few common household supplies.

Miracorp contractor Kelly Rider used only solar energy, recycled paper boxes, clear plastic packing tape, aluminum foil and glue sticks to whip up some nanchos, beans and chocolate chip cookies for employees. 

“Sacramento boasts about 200 days of sun each year, so why not use the sun to cook your food? It doesn’t heat up the house or use any cooking fuel. And the best part is it’s free!” said Rider.

Solar cooking works like a slow cooker set on low, so it doesn’t let food get dry or burned, and there’s no need to constantly stir or watch the food. “Using the sunshine is a great way to prepare and serve meals that are environmentally friendly and reduce your carbon footprint,” Rider added.

In case you’re wondering if solar cooking is only good for small snacks, Rider created a chicken and wild rice dinner the week before Earth Day as a trial run.

Do you have experience with solar cooking? Is it possible where you live? What other types of environmentally friendly cooking have you seen or done? If you want to learn more about solar cooking and its capabilities, visit Solar Cookers International at www.solarcookers.org

How much energy do you use? What’s it cost?

color-coded map of U.S. showing energy costs

How much energy costs by state

Do you know which state spends the most money per person on energy?

Spoiler alert! It’s Alaska.

Now, based on Energy Information Administration’s 2009 “State Energy Data System” you can navigate the Department of Energy’s interactive map to see which states spend the most and least money on energy per person.

color-coded map of U.S. showing energy consumption

How much energy states use

DOE also has an interactive map that highlights how much energy each state consumes.

You can see how varied energy costs and consumption are throughout Western’s service territory.

Looking at your state’s energy statistics, what do you think?

When ‘zero’ is the best you can do!

Two people hold a framed safety vest

Acting Administrator Anita Decker, left, accepts a safety vest from Maintenance Manager Will Schnyer, Feb. 20, at the RMEL workshop. The vest is signed by all the Western employees who helped restore power in the northeast after Hurricane Sandy made landfall in late October 2012.

We want 100 percent efficiency and 100 percent reliability at Western; but the one category we always want to see zeros in is accidents and injuries.

Safety is part of the job, planning and culture at Western. From senior and direct managers to office and field workers, employees know how important it is for everyone to go home at the end of the day.

The long days Western crews put in helping with the restoration efforts in the northeast after Hurricane Sandy were no exception. “All together our guys worked more than 18,500 hours in the 10 days we were out there,” said Will Schnyer, a maintenance manager out of Montrose, Colo. “That’s like one person working 40 hours a week for almost 9 years! And our crews did it without a single accident or injury.”

To celebrate the success, all 91 Western employees who responded to the call after Hurricane Sandy signed a safety vest. Schnyer presented the vest to Western’s Acting Administrator Anita Decker at RMEL’s “Electric Utility Emergency Response—Hurricane Sandy and Beyond” workshop, Feb. 20, 2013.

“We appreciate all the support we received while we went to restore the power system in New Jersey,” said Schnyer. “Our success is really marked by our safe working record. We are really proud of that record and of our team.”

“I’m honored to be recognized by the Hurricane Sandy responders,” said Decker, “but I’m truly most proud of what it represents in regard to the collective safety of each and every person involved.”

How do you recognize your employees’ safety efforts or achievements?

Western’s website: Fresh style, same content

Two people have coffee under a menu boardMost of us have local restaurants that have become our favorite haunts where we would consider ourselves regulars; and when the owner changes up the menu, we notice! You can still order your favorite meal, but now you have to reacquaint yourself with the menu to find your favorite dish.

Well, if Western is a ‘regular-haunt’ kind of website for you, you might have noticed that the menu, as well as the home page, has changed.

Yes, all the navigation and pages are still there and available for our “regulars,” but we updated the presentation to make finding information a little easier. Western announced its home page change the first week of November and then made the switch on Nov. 23.

Read more »

High-flow experiment at Glen Canyon Dam to protect Grand Canyon

Not since 2008 has the Glen Canyon had a high-flow release of water, but on Monday Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar along with Assistant Secretary for Water and Science Anne Castle, National Park Service Director Jonathan B. Jarvis and Bureau of Reclamation Commissioner Mike Connor were at Glen Canyon to see it happen. Western staff was also present to witness the long-awaited event of the Glen Canyon Dam bypass tubes being opened to initiate the High Flow Experimental release. “The experiment went well thanks to the coordination efforts between DOI and Western,” said Acting Colorado River Storage Project Manger Darren Buck.

On Nov. 19 the Glen Canyon Dam bypass tubes were opened to initiate the High-Flow Experiment.

On Nov. 19 the Glen Canyon Dam bypass tubes were opened to initiate the High-Flow Experiment.

The experiment, scheduled through 2020, allows for more frequent HFE releases to happen when the right conditions exist. This will determine the effectiveness of multiple HFE releases in rebuilding and conserving sandbars, beaches and associated backwater habitats of the Grand Canyon that have been lost or depleted since the dam’s construction and operation.

For more information about the HFE, see the DOI news release or visit Reclamation’s website.

Also, check out our videos and photos of the event on YouTube and Flikr.

Thoughtlessly saving energy at work

3 ways you (probably) save energy without knowing it!

I’m an early-riser; so when I get to the office, the lights are off, the coffee pot isn’t percolating and all the computers are hibernating. Since we’re still on daylight saving time, it’s pretty dark for my first hour of work. As I start the day, there are a few things I do first-thing that save energy without me really thinking about it. Here’s what I do:

  • Use task lighting. Our office lighting is automatically set up to switch on in the morning. When I get in, well before the timer goes off, I just use my task light above my desk to help me work instead of turning the lights on early. (Of course, I switch it back off when the lights pop on.)
  • Keep a sweater at work. Again, our office automatically kicks on the heat during fall and winter months. When it’s just a bit to cool for me, I slip on my office sweater or grab a cup of tea and wait for the automatic system to do its work.
  • Take the stairs. OK, I know this one sounds lame … but in addition to helping get my blood pumping in the morning, taking the stairs (and not the elevator) for two stories up, exercises my power instead of electric power.

All in all, these are simple things I do every day that save energy without a second thought.

So what are your favorite, easy solutions for saving or conserving energy? Read more »

Regional utilities gather in Colorado to talk energy efficiency

More than 100 electric utilities and industry representatives attended the sixth annual Rocky Mountain Utility Efficiency Exchange in Aspen, Colo., Oct. 10 to12.

Ron Ebenkamp, Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association, invites Robin O'Day, San Isabel Electric; Ray Pierotti, La Plata Electric; Gary Myers, Poudre Valley; and Craig Tate, Holy Cross Energy, to discuss the major role lighting programs continue to play in utility energy-efficiency portfolios at the sixth annual Rocky Mountain Utility Efficiency Exchange in Aspen, Colo., Oct. 10. The networking event lasted three days and allowed local water and energy utilities to share best practices in efficiency, renewable energy, demand response and key account customer management programs.

Ron Ebenkamp, Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association, invites Robin O'Day, San Isabel Electric; Ray Pierotti, La Plata Electric; Gary Myers, Poudre Valley; and Craig Tate, Holy Cross Energy, to discuss the major role lighting programs continue to play in utility energy-efficiency portfolios at the sixth annual Rocky Mountain Utility Efficiency Exchange in Aspen, Colo., Oct. 10.

Co-sponsored by Western’s Energy Services office, the networking event provided energy and water utilities serving Colorado and neighboring states an open forum to learn and teach how to implement efficiency, renewable energy, demand response and key account customer management programs with their peers.

Read more »

Blue Mesa Dam drilling through Oct. 2

Bureau of Reclamation drilling crews began working on the crest of Blue Mesa Dam, Sept. 12, continuing through about Oct. 2. Workers will drill three sample holes and install equipment in one of the holes to monitor dam activity.

The information gleaned from the core samples and equipment will be used by Reclamation for consideration of short and long-term performance of the dam related to dam safety and security measures.

Blue Mesa Dam is the first of three dams, including Morrow Point and Crystal Dams, which create the Wayne N. Aspinall Unit of the Colorado River Storage Project from which Western markets hydropower. The drilling will not impact hydropower generation.

Western Operations Study presented

Western hosted a webinar for customers Aug. 16—after posting the report a week earlier—to allow its consultant, Miracorp, to discuss the process they followed to create the report and also define Western’s next steps. Learn more about the study on Western’s Opertions Study page.