Category: Education

Western helps explain transmission role at BLM Solar Workshop

Two Western employees participated in the Bureau of Land Management Solar Workshop in Las Vegas Nevada March 6-8, 2012.  BLM put on the workshop to provide information to Bureau of Indian Affairs on developing solar projects on Federal lands.  

These workshops include reviews of BLM environmental impact studies, BLM solar zones, and panels on lessons learned and project sponsor challenges. 

Western Operations Support Specialist John Steward provided an overview of transmission development processes with a focus on solar projects. “It was a great experience to speak at a workshop that provided me the opportunity to educate others on Western’s role as a transmission service provider and a facilitator for interconnections,” said Steward.

Transmission Infrastructure Program Senior Investment Officer Roman Fontes also participated in the BLM workshop. He served on a development panel with other Federal agencies and commercial developers discussing the standards and selection process used to screen projects for viability. “BLM solar workshops are an important forum for exchanging information with BLM, BIA, NREL and industry partners on key development tasks to realize solar projects,” said Fontes. “The panel discussed challenges and lessons learned for commercial developers and including commercial aspects of Purchase Power Agreements and Transmission Service Agreements, and bank and finance requirements.”

 Fontes also conducted a follow up session with BIA participants on commercial and finance structures, negotiations and lease and lease-back arrangements.

Brophy College Preparatory School wins Arizona Regional Science Bowl

Brophy College Preparatory School of Phoenix won the Arizona Regional Science Bowl today at Glendale Community College in Glendale, Ariz., March 3. The winning team, including Kyle Chapman, Seth Harris, Ivan Iotzov, Aakash Jain, and Andrew Salmon and Coach Cheryl Lenox, advances to Washington, D.C., April 26 to 30 to compete against more than 77 other regional winners in the national finals of the Department of Energy’s National Science Bowl.

Desert Vista High School of Phoenix finished second, Brophy Preparatory School of Phoenix finished third and BASIS Tucson of Tucson, Ariz., finished fourth.

Check out more at Western’s press release.

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 holds Tribal webinar on transmission policy

Western conducted an Unwinding Transmission Policies webinar for 30 Native American Tribes and other interested parties Feb. 29 to explain what transmission policy is, how it is established and who enforces it. FERC Order 1000 and its possible impact to transmission resources were also discussed.

Questions ranged from whether Western would be releasing a renewable request for proposals to very specific issues regarding FERC policy.

“[It] was a well-done presentation. I appreciated [the speaker]’s organized and thoughtful approach to such a complex topic,” said Jan Bush, an environmental planner at Transcon Environmental. “When the recorded presentation becomes available, I would like to share it with the environmental planning staff here at Transcon.

This is the fourth webinar Western has held in partnership with the DOE Office of Indian Energy Policy and Programs and the DOE Tribal Energy Program.

Check out more, including audio recordings and presentations, in Western’s press release.

Western, UWIG wind, solar workshop imparts interconnection knowledge

Thirty five utility groups, grid operators and renewable energy developers filled the Western Area Power Administration’s Electric Power Training Center in Golden, Colo., Feb. 22 to 24 to learn about interconnecting wind and solar energy into the bulk and distribution electric grid.

“I thought it was great. It was a nice forum with impressive speakers,” said Jay Caspary from the Department of Energy Office of Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability and on loan from the regional transmission organization Southwest Power Pool. “There were a lot of smart people there, and I enjoyed connecting with people in the area.”

Find out more at Western’s press release.

DSW makes power lines more visible to protect wildlife

Seeing a flock of birds on a transmission line can be an amazing sight, and although birds can perch safely on electrical wires, colliding with them can cause injury or death. When power lines are near lakes and ponds, the risk of collision increases. This is the case of the birds of Lake Watson in Prescott, Ariz.

Desert Southwest Apprentice Lineman Horacio Adriano installs bird diverters on Western’s Prescott-Pinnacle Peak 230-kilovolt line.

Desert Southwest Apprentice Lineman Horacio Adriano installs line-marking devices on Western’s Prescott-Pinnacle Peak 230-kilovolt line.

In January, a five-man Desert Southwest maintenance crew, led by Foreman II Lineman Ronnie Martinez, installed line-marking devices, or LMDs, on Western’s Prescott-to-Pinnacle Peak 230-kilovolt line. “This is the first time DSW Maintenance crews took on a project like this so it was a good experience for all involved,” said Line Crew Foreman III Mark DePoe.

DSW installed the LMDs because residents of Lake Watson were worried that the birds using the lake were colliding with the overhead ground wires, and asked Western to help. Although there was no evidence of bird collisions near the lines, DSW’s Environmental group decided to install the devices. “Our power lines run east and west in that area and pass just southwest of the lake. Although we haven’t seen bird causalities in the area, we agreed to install the LMDs before anything hap-pened. We pride ourselves on being good neighbors and environmental stewards,” explained DePoe.

Before installation, the line was de-energized, and crew members thoroughly inspected the overhead ground wires for damage as a safety precaution. ἀe devices are staggered 50 feet apart  on each of the overhead ground wires.

DSW installed LMDs that clamp onto overhead ground wires. They are made of light plastic and reflective tape so they can easily swivel in the wind, and since they are not stationary, they are more likely visible to birds. “The birds will see [the devices] and not collide with the overhead ground wires,” said DePoe.

Although Lake Watson residents have not experienced an outage from bird collisions on the Prescott-to-Pinnacle Peak line, animals are one of the main causes of power outages in Western’s territory. Biologist Misti Schriner shared, “Western is actively involved in Avian Power Line Interaction Committee efforts to under-stand and educate the utility industry and conservation groups about the nature of power lines and birds.”

Western’s proactive approach to the situation, coupled with the collaborative effort between Maintenance, Environment and the community, created a win-win situation for everyone.

Western hosts wind, solar interconnection workshop

Western is teaming up with the Utility Wind Integration Group, American Public Power Association and the Department of Energy’s Wind and Water Power, Solar Energy Technologies and Tribal Energy programs to present the sixth annual Distributed Wind/Solar Interconnection Workshop, Feb. 22 to 24.

The workshop, taking place at Western’s Electric Power Training Center in Golden, Colo., provides a comprehensive overview of wind and solar integration studies. 

Expert speakers will use case studies to answer questions about interconnecting wind and solar plants and other distributed generation applications to electric distribution systems. Participants will get an introduction to UWIG’s Internet-based tools for assessing a distributed wind project’s impact on the local distribution system.

Registration and $300 is required to attend the workshop in person. Those interested can also attend four online sessions for just $99. 

Find out more at Western’s Newsroom or the event announcement.

Ridgeview Classical wins Rocky Mountain regional science bowl

Ridgeview Classical Schools of Fort Collins won the Rocky Mountain Regional Science Bowl Feb. 18 at Poudre High School in Fort Collins, Colo. The winning team, including Jordan Diemer, Artem Bolshakov, Caleb Jhones, Luke Boustred, Alexander Horne and Coach Paula Petterson, advances to Washington, DC, April 26-30 to compete against more than 77 other regional winners in the national finals of the Department of Energy’s National Science Bowl.

Fairview High School of Boulder finished second and Poudre High School of Fort Collins finished third. Find out more at Western’s Newsroom.

Western offers Federal agencies easy tool to go “greener”

Federal agencies interested in meeting their renewable energy goals and mandates, improving the environment and supporting national energy security are invited to join the 2012 renewable energy certificate (REC) solicitation being issued by Western.

Participating in this solicitation is easy: Complete and submit the Statement of Intent for Federal Agencies to Purchase Renewable Resources no later than April 20. Western is also offering a webinar to educate agencies and others on the program and submission process March 14 at 10 a.m. MST. Interested parties need to register.

For more information, visit Western’s Newsroom or the Renewable Resources for Federal Agencies website.

More Regional Science Bowl winners head to DC for Nat’l competition

Preparing for the National Science Bowl in Washington D.C., the end of April, Western’s regional winners are ramping up.  Of the six regional bowls, two more winners have been named. The first from the Big Sky Science Bowl in Billings, Mont., was Helena High School. The second (reining Nat’l champions) Mira Loma High School from the Sacramento Science Bowl.  Our next regional competition is the Rocky Mountain Science Bowl in Loveland, Colo.