Category: Education

Course adapted to meet DOE’s Wind Program

Western’s Electric Power Training Center adapts course to meet DOE Wind Energy Program. The Aug. 26-29 Fundamentals of Power Systems Operations course will give participants an opportunity to receive hands-on experience in how the Bulk Electric System operates and challenges variable generation poses to system operators. The course will also show how the EPTC can play an active role in educating stakeholders on how to best manage increasing amounts of variable generation. The course will include a tour to the Ault substation and Western’s Rocky Mountain Control Center in Loveland, Colo.

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

Mira Loma High School takes top honors at NSB

The Mira Loma High School Science Bowl team Final Awards Ceremony for tthe 2013 National Science Bowl. Left to right:Dr Pat Dehmer,Acting Director Office of Science, Siddharth Trehan,Jacob Gurey, Saaket Agrawal,Daniel Shen, Coach James Hill. Photo by Dennis Brack, U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Science

An outstanding team at Mira Loma High School from Sacramento, Calif. earned first place at the Department of Energy’s National Science Bowl completion, April 30 in Washington, DC. The school’s winning streak reputation has earned them 13 Sierra Nevada Regional Science Bowl first-place titles and three first-place trophies from the national competition.

As a prize for winning the 2013 NSB, the Mira Loma team received a nine-day, all-expense paid science trip to Alaska. While on the trip, the students will take day trips to learn about glaciology, marine and avian biology, geology and plate tectonics.

More than 9,000 high school students on 1,894 teams took part in this year’s competition.

Employees from across Western’s service territory volunteer as judges, timers, runners and announcers at regional Science Bowl competitions.

Employees volunteer, cheer for students, science

When you work in an administrative capacity or for a support function at Western, you can feel quite removed from the technical side of the business, quite removed from Energy, quite removed from Science. At least, that’s how I sometimes feel working in Public Affairs.

Members of the winning Helena A Team, Katie Chamberlain, Thomas Culver, Mark Sargent and Joe Whitney, ponder a question on their way to winning the Big Sky Regional Science Bowl Feb. 2, 2013.

But every year, Western employees, regardless of their position have a chance to get just a little bit closer to the science of it all, through volunteering at one of six regional Science Bowls, hosted by Western’s regional offices.

Employees from across Western’s service territory volunteer as judges, timers, runners and announcers. In an enthusiatic email to employees at our Corporate Services Office, Colorado River Storage Project Management Center Manager Lynn Jeka shared, “I have served as a volunteer scorekeeper for the Southern Colorado area [Department of Energy] High School Science Bowl…since joining DOE in 1996. It never ceases to amaze me how extremely bright and talented these high school students are.”

She went on to encourage other employees to volunteer and joked about how intimidating the rapid-fire science and math questions could be.

On Feb. 2 Helena High School took first place for the third year in a row, beating 27 other teams, at the Big Sky Regional Science Bowl in Montana while Ridgeview Classicals Schools Team 1 from Fort Collins, Colo., won the Rocky Mountain Science Bowl, beating 22 teams from Colorado and Nebraska. Both winners will advance to the National Science Bowl in Washington D.C., April 25-29.

Western will sponsor two more regional science bowls in February and two more in March. Stay tuned to read about the winners.

How well do you think you’d fare answering questions about biology, chemistry, earth science, space science, math and physics?

EMF: How close is too close?

E.M.F. Three little letters that strike terror into many hearts, but why?

EMF testing

Donna Shay, a Colorado citizen, asked Western to conduct an electric and magnetic field reading at her cabin that sits just outside a 115-kilovolt transmission line’s right-of-way. EMF readings determined about 1 milliGauss of exposure near her front door.

Mostly, it’s because we don’t understand electric and magnetic fields, or EMF.

The truth is people come into contact with these fields every day. EMFs occur naturally, like the magnetic field caused by currents deep inside Earth’s molten core. Manmade fields are also created by common appliances and equipment we depend on every day, like talking on a cell phone or heating up lunch in a microwave.

At Western, our high-voltage transmission lines and substations give off EMF, which sometimes concerns landowners with lines over and near their property. To help allay concerns, Western’s electrical engineers will test landowners’ EMF exposures from our transmission lines on request. Read more »

In a battle of knowledge, students excel to national competition

Putting science and mathematics to the test, high- and middle-school students spend late winter and early spring competing at regional competitions for top honors at the Department of Energy National Science Bowl at the end of April  in Washington, D.C. 

Throughout Western’s territory, our employees sponsor and volunteer for the regional Science Bowls in hopes that one of our local high school and middle school teams takes the top honors at the national level. Western employees volunteer as judges, timers, runners and announcers.

Starting Feb. 2 with the Big Sky Regional Science Bowl in Billings, Mont., and Rocky Mountain RSB in Ft. Collins, Colo., Western participates in six regional bowls.  The Arizona RSB is scheduled for March 2 in Glendale, Ariz. Still to be schedule are the Sacramento, North Dakota and South Dakota RSBs.

California: Interested in how hydropower costs are calculated for the Central Valley?

The Bureau of Reclamation’s Mid-Pacific Region announced Jan. 9 that it will hold a public workshop on the assumptions, modeling and methodology for determining hydropower benefits of the ongoing Cost Allocation Study for the Central Valley Project.

The workshop will be held:

Friday, Jan. 18
11:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m.
Federal Building, 2800 Cottage Way
Cafeteria Conference Rooms C1001-C1002
Sacramento, CA  95825

If you’re interested in the methodology and model that will be used during the study, this meeting will be your opportunity to ask questions and provide feedback. You can also find out more about the Central Valley Project Cost Allocation Study on Reclamation’s website.

Drip-dry: Drought’s major impact on water uses

Have you noticed water evaporating overnight from your cup at your office? Have you been running a humidifier at home or noticed your plants are in need of more TLC than usual? Yes, it’s been dry in the West … extremely dry … critically dry.

U.S. map showing drough conditions

University of Nebraska-Lincoln's U.S. Drought Monitor

There has been a lot of talk in the news about the drought’s impact on farms and food, and what kind of snowfall it would take to relieve the drought.

At Western, since we use water from many of the large streams throughout the West, the drought impacts our regions, our communities and our ability to produce hydropower. In fact, our final hydro conditions report for the water year 2012 was less than stellar. 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 »