Many Colorado media outlets are reporting that we are at only 80 percent of snowpack for the water year; but what they are not saying is that we are doing better than last year—and snowpack levels are still rising!
This line chart compares the average seasonal peaks
The last few storms have improved the runoff outlook; meaning as the snow melts, the runoff water fills Colorado’s streams and rivers. This time last year, the peak snowpack accural was over and the runoff was well under way. Current reports from the Colordao Basin River Forecast Center show that we have surpassed last year’s snowpack peak by about 30 percent and we are still climbing with this week’s storms.
This will certainly improve Western’s hydro conditions
forecast for the Rocky Mountain Region. Although our hydro conditions are not back to 100 percent, we hope this year’s total will be improved from last year. Ski resorts may be closing and sad to see that the snow is just now accumulating, but here at Western we are ecstatic and say, “Keep it coming, Mother Nature!”
DOE announced Mark Gabriel as Western’s new Administrator Apr. 3. Welcome to Western, Mark!
While the DOE announcement provides Mark’s curriculum vitae and relevant background, he gave Western employees a little more personal look shortly after the announcement.
In his first few months at Western, Mark says his top tasks will be to get a sense of the organization, get a solid handle on the critical issues we face and work to understand the intricacies of the place. “It is too early for me to set hard goals, and I have a lot to learn from the team at Western, our customers and our partners at DOE. It will be critical for me to develop an understanding and assessment on the financial situation focusing on the unique challenges faced by Western.” He added, “I will also actively reach out to the customers and staff. The relationship with people is how organizations succeed or fail.”
In addition to being an avid outdoorsman, Mark said, “One of my other hobbies is the history of our great electric industry—that is why I included so much of it in my book, Visions for a Sustainable Energy Future. It may sound corny, but I truly believe that it is a privilege and honor to keep this nation’s vital resource and critical infrastructure operating every day.”
On why he applied to be Western’s Administrator, Mark said, “Western’s mission of delivering clean and reliable power to customers while maintaining our nation’s critical infrastructure aligns perfectly with my beliefs and goals. Having worked in this wonderful business for more than 20 years on a number of critical projects and problems, the opportunity to work for an organization so critical to this nation’s economic vitality and health was too hard to pass up.”
If you could ask Mark one question as he approaches his new job, what would it be?
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.
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?
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?
Employees with Tri-Technic Inc. prepare footer for an ED-5 Substation retaining wall, Feb. 11, 2013.
Construction work started on a project that will connect renewable energy south of Phoenix, Ariz., to a major trading hub. This is the first major construction step for the Electrical District No. 5 – Palo Verde Hub Project.
“It’s great to see that construction work has started on this important project,” said ED5-PVH Project Manager Todd Rhoades. “Hurricane Sandy and the recent northeast blackouts really highlight how important our energy infrastructure is to our everyday lives. This project is an investment in improving our system in the desert southwest area.”
Western awarded the construction contracts in fall 2012. These projects are being funded through Western’s Transmission Infrastructure Program.
What benefits do you see from projects like ED5-PVH in support of the utility industry?
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.
A Rim Rock Turbine generates energy in Montana. (Photo by NaturEner)
Western’s Connections blog first shared that the Rim Rock Wind Farm’s planned to interconnect through the Montana Alberta Tie Limited transmission line (a project supported through Western’s Transmission Infrastructure Program) in a post last Jan. 10, 2012. Even though Western’s involvement with MATL was completed last fall, the wind farm announced another milestone yesterday.
NaturEner publicized Jan. 10 that the commercial operations of its Rim Rock Wind Farm near Kevin, Mont., started Dec. 28, 2012. Read more »
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.
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 »
Most 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 »
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 »