Lineman Joshua Bailey of the Cody, Wyo., maintenance office completes a pre-trip inspection on the 100-foot aerial manlift the morning of Nov. 1 before he and four other crewmates depart for Hoboken, N.J., to help with power restoration after Hurricane Sandy.
Western sent dozens of linemen, electricians, vehicles and supplies and two of its three Bell 407 helicopters to help repair storm damage to the electric grid in some of the hardest hit areas of New Jersey.
Along with its sister power marketing administrations Southwestern and Bonneville, Western has responded to calls for assistance from the Department of Energy to get the Northeast powered as quickly as possible.
“Our hearts go out to all those who have been affected by this devastating storm,” said Anita Decker, Western Acting Administrator. “The President has directed the Department of Energy, Western and the other power marketing administrations to work with the Northeast Utilities and do all we can to accelerate power restoration to those affected by Hurricane Sandy. Western is proud to be part of this effort to help restore power as quickly and safely as possible.”
Western is providing daily updates and photos on its support to Hurricane Sandy at its website and Flickr account.
James Hirning, a Rocky Mountain transmission planner, talks about Western and transmission planning to engineering graduate students at the University of Denver Nov. 1.
Rocky Mountain transmission planner Jim Hirning talks with University of Denver engineering graduate students Nov. 1 about transmission planning in Western and the intricacies that go into devising how to keep the electric grid reliable in the coming decades. Transmission planning is an area of potential job growth for Western as new generation, particularly renewable, comes online and demand grows in the West. As of last year, Western had more than 11,000 megawatts of renewable energy in its interconnection queues and not enough people, or transmission, to work through the requests.
Western’s Upper Great Plains Region gets in the spirit in their local community and wins top honors. Participating in the 19th annual Great
Lisa Wolf (l) and Jack Winter (r) win the humorous award for Western's Huron employees' association
Scarecrow Festival, the Huron employees associations’ “Watts Up!” cow–a metal cow made out of old farm parts and other junk–competed against 33 other scarecrows taking the humorous scarecrow commercial/organization award and earning the traveling trophy.
Watts Up is a metal cow constructed from a fuel barrel welded to an old truck frame with a front and rear axle from an old truck. The whole idea was to make it from used junk; and, if it were farm-related, that was even better. Read more »
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.
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 »
Neighbors, local government officials and Western representatives gathered around a large map during workshop meetings, Oct. 2 to 4, where they discussed options for an upgrade to combine two transmission lines into one right of way. Both lines feed the Town of Estes and other nearby communities in Colorado with energy.
Drawing alternative routes with colored markers, neighbors talked about how different paths for the power line could impact the environment, their neighbors and the scenic views of their town and surrounding national forests. For some participants, it was an educational experience in the complexity of differing views and issues that came up regarding their ideas.
The collective thoughts and considerations of these engaged citizens will help Western Area Power Administration determine the alternatives it will review in its draft environmental impact statement for the Estes-Flatiron Transmission Line Rebuild Project.
Western is preparing to analyze how different alternatives for rebuilding or maintaining the transmission system will provide reliable power and impact the environment, landowners and surrounding communities. With high public interest for this project, Western extended the scoping period through Oct. 19 to work with the local communities to:
- Identify transmission line route options
- Gather input on design/structure features
- Understand the many issues and impacts with any alternative route
If you would like to provide input on route alternatives or structure design, take the time to examine the scoping and alternative development materials and reply to Western by Oct. 19. The input will help Western and cooperating agencies identify alternatives to be analyzed in the draft environmental impact statement.
Western’s linemen keep the agencies transmission lines and structures maintained so the system can reliably deliver electricity to cities and towns throughout the West. Sometimes this job requires Western to de-energize a line for maintenance of the line or working going on below the transmission line.
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Todd Plain snapped this photo of Western linemen de-energizing the high-voltage power line at dusk for the safety of the workers below. Construction crews worked during the night constructing the seepage cutoff wall (part of the American River levees) underneath the line. This is part of the Corps American River Common Features project, a joint flood risk reduction effort between the Corps, the state’s Central Valley Flood Protection Board/Department of Water Resources and the Sacramento Area Flood Control Agency.
(Photo belongs to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers-Sacramento District. Full picture description available on the USACE-Sacramento District’s Flickr photostream.)
Rim Rock wind turbine owned and operated by NaturEner (Photo provided by NaturEner website)
Hundreds of people attended NaturEner’s opening ceremony Sept. 14 for the Rim Rock wind farm just north of Cut Bank, Mont., to celebrate overcoming the considerable challenges in making the wind farm a reality.
“There was a time last summer when we were doubtful we were going to be able to pull this off,” said Greg Copeland, Development Director of the U.S. division of the Spanish-owned NaturEner. Read more »
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.
In a job where high-risk tasks are a daily business, training is vital. Especially when we talk rescue training. On an annual basis, maintenance crews at Western are required to perform fall protection training to be a “qualified” climber. In this photo, Ron Miller, Rocky Mountain Region lineman performs a simulated poletop rescue during training.
Renewable Energy Systems Americas employees continue work on the MATL line Jan. 12 near Sweetgrass, Mont. (Photo courtesy of Enbridge)
Taking another step toward bringing renewable energy to market, this month contractors got back to work on the Montana Alberta Tie Limited project.
After receiving a notice to proceed on construction Jan. 10, Renewable Energy Systems Americas employees, hired by Enbridge, got boots on the ground quickly and began remediation work on some existing structures and line near Sweetgrass, Mont.
With 60 percent of the transmission line and substations already completed, Enbridge and RES are continuing to make progress on the line north of Marias River.
Funded partially through Western Area Power Administration’s Transmission Infrastructure Program, Enbridge expects to complete the 214-mile, 230-kilovolt line in 2012.
“Enbridge is committed to quality construction of the line and timely completion of the project,” said Vi Michaelis, Western’s project manager for MATL. “We are very encouraged by the construction restart.”
Once completed, MATL will interconnect the 189-megawatt Rim Rock wind power project, which announced its notice to proceed on construction Jan. 9.