NaturEner reported it completed installation of 11 turbines as of July 3 on the southwest part of the Rim Rock Wind Farm, Mont.
Several stakeholders, including Western representatives, toured the Rim Rock site the last week of June to see the construction progress. The wind farm will be interconnected through the Montana-Alberta Tie Limited transmission line project.
You can see additional photos and read more about the project’s construction and environmental progress on NaturEner’s website.
Over the last week, the Federal government took multiple steps to bring energy advancements to tribal lands.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 received 20 customer responses to a request for interest in the purchase of renewable energy generated by the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe’s proposed 99-megawatt Tate Topa Wind Energy Project located on the tribe’s reservation.
The goal of the request, which closed May 11, was to get interested purchasers and the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe talking. “Because it was more about finding out who might be interested, not all 20 requests specified an amount of energy they were interested in purchasing,” explained Public Utilities Specialist Georganne Myers. “However, those that made specific requests totaled approximately 143,000 megawatt-hours annually for contract terms of between 10 and 20 years.”
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.
In February, the California legislature introduced Assembly Bill 1771 Renewable energy resources: hydroelectric generation, which, if enacted, would revise what size hydropower plant can contribute to an energy service provider’s renewable portfolio standard and how many megawatts can be counted.
Currently, only small hydropower plants qualify to be used as a renewable energy source under California’s 33-percent RPS requirement, and the maximum hydropower contribution is 30 megawatts.
If enacted in its present form, the hydropower plant size and megawatt limits would be eliminated, which could increase interest in Western’s Sierra Nevada region’s Central Valley Project. The CVP’s 11 hydropower plants produced 5,369 gigawatt-hours in Fiscal Year 2011 for preference power customers in California.
The bill is tentatively scheduled to be heard in committee March 22.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Western Area Power Administrator Tim Meeks spoke in Denver, Colo., Feb. 7, at the Tribal Leader Forum “Exploring the Business Link Opportunity: Transmission and Clean Energy Development in the West.”
The forum, sponsored by the Department of Energy and the second in a series of events, provided an opportunity for tribal leaders to interact with industry and Federal leaders, get information about transmission development in the West and learn about the latest trends in financing clean energy projects.
Meeks focused his remarks on transmission expansion in the West and its impact on tribal land and shared, “When you look at our service area, we’re neighbors. We need this partnership, and we need to continue to work together.”
See the news release for more information.