Category: Efficiency

Western ‘energizes’ participants at Big Brother, Big Sister education event

Some Big Brothers and Big Sisters of Colorado youth and mentors were literally shocked while learning about the electrifying world of energy Aug. 11.

Participants, like this pair, had their pictures taken with an infrared camera during the Big Brothers and Big Sisters event focused on electricity, Aug. 11

Several Western Area Power Administration employees volunteered their time to provide participants with an understanding about how electricity travels from where it is generated to homes and businesses. “Watching participants learn new things about electricity and energy; and seeing them connect with how they can make simple choices that conserve energy is exciting,” said Energy Services Equipment Loan Program Manager Gary Hoffmann.

In just a little more than two hours, participants learn about money and energy-saving tips for their homes as well as for industry buildings; and took some time to investigate fuel-cell technology, understand different lighting options and ‘see’ heat using an infrared camera. They also had the opportunity to see a Tesla Coil and watch a fluorescent lamp light up in their hands.

One highlight of the event was the Van de Graaff generator where youth and mentors learned about static electricity and had the opportunity to share the electric charge and shock each other. Through the fun, hands-on event, participants learned first-hand how electricity works, its uses and also its dangers.

“We were all very excited about the success of the day. The kids and mentors loved learning about electricity in a hands-on way and were amazed by the various tools and toys Western shared,” added Program and Fund Development Intern Laura Newman, who organized the event. “Many of the kids left the event, infrared pictures of their match [mentor and youth] in hand, discussing how to do more and learn more about energy and science. Every match said they were interested in participating in more events like this.”

In the end, participants walked away charged up and ready to save energy. Some of those solutions include:

  • Turn off appliances when you’re not using them, including lights, computers, gaming consoles, TVs and radios.
  • Unplug chargers when not in use—charging devices can draw power even when they aren’t attached to a battery.
  • Close the refrigerator door quickly after you find a snack.
  • Keep doors, windows and curtains closed on very hot and very cold days.
  • Dress for the weather.
  • Set your thermostat at 78 degrees in the summer and no higher than 68 degrees in the winter.
  • Seal leaks around windows, doors and heating ducts.
  • Air-dry clothes.

Customers: Send comments about Defining the future’ by Aug. 17

The Department of Energy and Western Joint Outreach Team finished the final two of six public workshops and listening sessions the week of July 30 to define Western’s role in transitioning the grid to a flexible, reliable system worthy of the 21st century.

But the team is still accepting comments through Aug. 17 for stakeholders and Aug. 24 for Native American Tribes as part of the public scoping process for this effort. Some comments submitted are already available for viewing on Western’s website. To get your comment in, email JOT@wapa.gov with your name, organizational affiliation and your thoughts.

The team will take the oral and written comments and ideas generated in the workshops and submitted via email to draft recommendations for public comment sometime this fall.

Here are some photos from the Aug. 2 meeting in Sioux Falls, S.D.

Operations study released Aug. 2

In an effort to determine how best to improve operations and transmission services process and activities, Western’s Senior Management Team decided to take a look at the agency’s operations in Summer 2011.

During the last year, Miracorp–an independent consultant–evaluated Western’s current power system operations and provide alternatives to consider as the agency strives to operate efficiently and effectively in a dynamically changing environment. 

Miracorp released the Operations Study Report Aug. 2,(pdf) without input or comment from Western.

July 12 kickoff meeting for ‘Defining the future’

Western and DOE are hosting a webinar to kick off the public involvement and stakeholder process in our “Defining the Future” Initiative. The goal of the initiative is to achieve a more secure and sustainable electric sector in the United States.

Already Western has publicized it’s progress toward the objectives in Secretary of Energy Stephen Chu’s memo to the power marketing administrations.

Now during the webinar, participants can see the workshop and listening session formats, directions on how to access read-ahead material, a preview of information that will be presented during the workshops and a summary of the process for stakeholder participation during workshops and listening sessions.

So join us for:

Pre-workshop Webinar: “Defining the Future” Initiative
Thursday, July 12, 2012 at 1 p.m. (EDT)
Register for the webinar online

Government initiatives support tribal access to energy advancements

Over the last week, the Federal government took multiple steps to bring energy advancements to tribal lands.

  1. Department of Interior Secretary Salazar approved a 350-megawatt solar energy project on the Moapa River Indian Reservation in Nevada on July 21. This project is the first-ever of its kind, being the only utility-scale development on tribal lands. The project supports President Obama’s all-of-the-above approach to energy and builds on the Administration’s efforts to advance renewable energy on America’s public lands. This innovative project is another step toward developing renewable energy resources on tribal lands with the hope of strengthening Native American economies.
  2. The Department of Energy announced Strategic Technical Assistance Response Team selections for six tribes in the lower 48 states to receive on-the-ground technical support for community-based energy efficiency and renewable energy projects. The START program provides both tribal communities and Alaska native villages with technical assistance to accelerate clean energy project development, advance energy self-sufficiency and create jobs.
  3. DOE recently launched an online resource library focused on energy topics relevant to tribal communities. The library lists links to more than 85 publications, websites and other resources about energy project development and financing in Indian Country. Topics include project checklists, technology, tribal case studies and strategic energy planning.
  4. Lastly, DOE announced the appointment of three additional tribal members for its Indian Country Energy and Infrastructure Working Group. The new tribal team members are the Ho-Chunk Nation of Wisconsin, Crow Tribe of Montana and Tlingit and Haida Tribes of Alaska. Established in 2011, the group is made up of geographically diverse Native American energy leaders who discuss issues affecting tribal energy development. Members have broken ground by meeting with key energy sector players to share best practices and discuss emerging markets and opportunities for innovative partnerships.

Western “defines the future”

Western recently published new webpages to publicize progress toward the objectives in Secretary of Energy Stephen Chu’s March 16 memo to the power marketing administrations.

The webpages advertise public involvement opportunities, including stakeholder meetings, and show how Western is progressing toward meeting the memo’s objectives.

While Western calls the section “Defining the future,” the agency remains committed to providing reliable, cost-based electric service to its preference power customers. The objectives in the PMA memo only call for Western’s leadership in “transforming our electric system to the 21st century to ensure our nation remains competitive in a global economy,” as Secretary Chu stated in his May 30 blog post.

“[Western] has an enormous opportunity to assume a leadership role in helping prevent future blackouts by making the organizational and operational changes necessary to enhance overall system operations and planning,” he added.

Be sure to check out the pages regularly as they will be frequently updated with more information through the end of the year.

Montana Schools Win National Student Energy Efficiency Competition

A team of five schools from Carter County, Mont., has won the America’s Home Energy Education Challenge, a national student competition designed to encourage students and their families to take action to start saving money by saving energy.

The Montana team was supported by Southeast Electric Cooperative, based in Ekalaka, Mont.  Marlene Waterland of Southeast Electric coordinated the program and provided training for each of the schools.  Western contributed to the effort by providing a lighting efficiency display and infrared cameras through the Equipment Loan Program.

“Western is proud to be able to assist Southeast Electric Cooperative and Marlene engage these young people and focus their math and science skills on a real-life problem—how to save money by using energy efficiently at home,” said Gary Hoffmann, Western’s Equipment Loan Program manager.

The five schools, Alzeda Elementary School, Carter County High School, Ekalaka Elementary School (K-8th grade), Hammond School (K-8th grade) and Hawks Home School, will share the $15,000 they won as both a regional winner and as the national champion.

The Challenge, which is run by the National Science Teachers Association for the Department of Energy, challenged teams of third through eighth grade students to work with their science teachers and local utility companies to develop energy use savings plans that reduce the amount of energy used to power their homes. Each student team monitored and measured their energy consumption between September and November 2011, and then compared it to data collected during the same three-month period the year before.

The Montana students talked to their family members about steps they could take to save money by saving energy, including turning off the lights when leaving the room, running the laundry machine with cooler water and full loads, and in an agricultural community, using timers to set charging times for tractors.

Learn more about the America’s Home Energy Education Challenge

Read DOE’s press release on the America’s Home Energy Education Challenge winner

See photos and local coverage of the Carter County program

Western tribal customers awarded DOE funding for clean energy projects

The Department of Energy announced its next round of tribal energy development projects, Feb. 16.  Of the 19 clean energy projects chosen to receive more than $6.5 million, 10 involve Western tribal customers.

These DOE-selected projects will allow Native American tribes to advance clean energy within their communities by assessing local energy resources, developing renewable energy projects and deploying clean energy technologies. These projects will help tribal communities across the country save money and create new job and business opportunities.

The projects selected for negotiation of award fall into three areas:

  • Feasibility studies – Thirteen projects will receive $3.6 million to assess the technical and economic viability of developing renewable energy resources on tribal lands to generate utility-scale power or installing renewable energy systems to reduce energy use by 30 percent.For example, Western customer White Earth Reservation Tribal Council would use the funding to look at deploying a biogas/biomass-fired combined heat and power facility to generate 2.7 megawatts of electricity for tribal buildings, as well as for space and domestic water heating.
  • Renewable energy development – Four projects, including Western customer Jemez Pueblo’s project, will receive $1.7 million for pre-construction development activities.  Jemez Pueblo plans to use the funding to complete all remaining solar development activities for a 4-megawatt photovoltaic solar facility, which includes acquiring a power purchase agreement, completing site-related project requirements, such as site surveys and lease approval, and finalizing project financing.
  • Installation– Two projects will receive $1.3 million to deploy renewable energy technologies to convert waste and other biomass to energy. One of the two is another Jemez Pueblo project, where the tribe would install a cordwood-fired biomass energy system using locally available wood to heat the tribe’s visitor center. Once installed, the system will provide up to 90 percent of the facility’s heating needs.

See the DOE press release, the Office of Indian Energy Policy and Programs, and the project descriptions.

Webinars provide opportunities

DOE and Western have taken a number of steps to support tribal energy development and empower tribal leaders to make informed decisions that promote community economic development.

Western has already held its fourth webinar in partnership with the DOE Office of Indian Energy Policy and Programs and the DOE Tribal Energy Program to promote tribal energy sufficiency. The next event will be March 28 where participants will learn more about interconnection and transmission service queues.

Western customer recognized for including the public in IRP process

Western’s Rocky Mountain Region Manager Brad Warren  presented Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association’s CEO Ken Anderson an Administrator’s award in recognition of Tri-State’s exceptional energy efficiency and renewable energy contributions.

Tri-State earned this peer-recognition award for going above the standards to engage the public in its Integrated Resource Plan process.

“Tri-State went the extra mile to involve stakeholders, and that was a tremendous effort to undertake,” said Warren.

See the news release for more information.

Let holiday lighting shine bright without breaking the budget

Holiday lights can illuminate our homes with cheer inside and out, but with energy costs continuing to increase, saving money on the power it takes to run those lights could help many businesses and family budgets.
 
Instead of using incandescent bulbs, light-emitting diode lights and fiber optic trees are two energy-efficient technology options that can substantially reduce your energy costs and increase safety at the same time. Products are available for residential and commercial applications, and the ENERGY STAR® program now has specifications for decorative light strings.
 
Read more about holiday lighting choices in the Energy Services’s Holiday Lighting 2011 Fact Sheet.
 
 
An infrared camera shows how much heat the lighting on the tree produces.

An infrared camera shows how much heat the lighting on the tree produces.

Western's office christmas tree
Western’s office christmas tree