Category: Renewables

Western Administrator speaks at local Tribal Leader Forum

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.

Enbridge takes up MATL line construction

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.

Rim Rock wind project to interconnect through MATL

On Jan. 9, NaturEner announced its plans to construct the Rim Rock wind power project, which will bring 189 megawatts of renewable energy online through the Montana Alberta Tie Limited project.

NaturEner secured a $320 million construction loan with Morgan Stanley Jan. 9, putting the project on track to be commercially operational by the end of 2012. With the MATL line expected to be placed into service in 2012, Rim Rock will have the transmission access it needs to deliver renewable energy.

“The strong financial backing of the U.S. Department of Energy, carried out through Western, has enabled MATL which, together with incentives such as the Production Tax Credit, has allowed Rim Rock to proceed,” added Jose M Sanchez-Seara, CEO of NaturEner. “We greatly appreciate the U.S. Government’s support for renewable energy generation and the transmission lines that allow them to deliver the energy to markets across North America.”

Rim Rock is a 189-MW wind farm project located in Glacier and Toole Counties, Mont., that will consist of 126 Acciona AW-77 1.5 MW turbines. The project area encompasses about 21,000 acres of private land. The project is expected to generate enough energy to power more than 60,000 homes and will offset more than 389,000 metric tons of CO2 emissions per year.

Bill to repeal TIP’s borrowing authority moves to full House

House Resolution 2915, which proposes to repeal Western’s Transmission Infrastructure Program’s $3.25 billion borrowing authority from the U.S. Treasury, passed the House of Representatives Committee of Natural Resources with no amendments Oct. 5 with a 26-17 straight party-line vote.

While the three projects currently approved to use the borrowing authority – TransWest Express (development phase), Electrical District 5 – Palo Verde Hub and the Montana Alberta Tie, Limited – would not be impacted by the bill’s passage, no other projects being considered would receive funding.

“New transmission is urgently needed in the western United States.  And yet, getting lines in the air has been far too slow over the past few decades,” said Lauren Azar, senior advisor to U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu, in a written testimony for a Sept. 22 hearing with the Subcommittee on Water and Power. “Western’s $3.25 billion of permanent, indefinite, borrowing authority is, therefore, a critical tool for addressing two of the major energy challenges we now face in the West — the need for additional transmission infrastructure and integration of renewables onto the grid.”

The bill will now be considered in the full House.

TIP’s borrowing authority constructs or upgrades transmission infrastructure within Western’s 15-state service area that has the reasonable expectation of helping deliver renewable generation to customers and is in the public interest.

One of TIP’s projects chosen for fast-track approval

The Department of Energy announced, Oct. 5, seven transmission projects chosen by President Obama’s administration for accelerated permitting and constructing by the newly-formed Rapid Response Team for Transmission, which brings together nine agencies to expedite and improve the coordination of necessary Federal approvals for building transmission.

One of the chosen projects, TransWest Express, is currently being funded partially by Western’s Transmission Infrastructure Program’s borrowing authority. Western will provide $25 million, or 50 percent, for the development phase to determine the technical feasibility of building the project.

“The RRTT selection highlights the TWE Project’s importance to the overall grid, its economic and environmental benefits, and its ability to create and sustain competitive, cost-effective energy for consumers in California and other states,” said Bill Miller, president and CEO of TransWest Express LLC.

About Rapid Response Team for Transmission
The agencies included in the team are the White House Council on Environmental Quality, the Department of the Interior, the Department of Agriculture, the Department of Energy, the Department of Commerce, the Department of Defense, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Federal Electric Regulatory Commission, and the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation.

Western, TWE execute development agreement for TransWest Express Transmission Project

A major milestone for the TransWest Express Transmission Project was reached Friday as the Western Area Power Administration and TransWest Express LLC announced an agreement to fund the project’s $50 million development phase.

The TWE Project development phase will determine the feasibility of constructing and operating a 725-mile, 600-kilovolt, direct current transmission line that would facilitate renewable energy delivery from Wyoming to the southwestern United States. The project would interconnect with the existing transmission grid near Rawlins, Wyo., and the Marketplace Hub, near Las Vegas, Nev.

Western’s Transmission Infrastructure Program will use its U.S. Treasury borrowing authority under the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act amendement to the Hoover Power Plant Act of 1984 to fund 50 percent of the development phase. TWE , LLC will fund the other $25 million.

The press release in its entirety can be read in Western’s online Newsroom.

Western implements intra-hour transmission scheduling

On July 12, Western switched its transmission scheduling from every hour to every half hour.

The change to intra-hour scheduling is expected to increase the grid and markets ability to respond to supply and demand fluctuations, particularly with the influx of variable energy resources like wind and solar power. It will also allow for more flexible and efficient use of available transmission.

“The initiative provides renewable generators the ability to have their actual [generation] closer to the schedule, reducing their exposure to imbalance penalties,” said Mike McElhany, a member in the Transmission Business Unit in the Desert Southwest region. “It helps level the playing field and provides more flexibility to integrate renewable energy.”

Shortening the timeframe permits increased integration of those variable resources when they’re available and the ability to quickly ramp up alternate sources when they’re not, without unduly penalizing renewable generators.

“It helps limit additional costs faced by the renewable producer when their actual generation and scheduled generation do not align, reducing the cost of integrating renewable generation,” said Ron Moulton, Transmission Services Manager for DSW and Rocky Mountain region.

Free webinar offered to tribes for guidance on RFPs

Join Western and the Department of Energy’s Tribal Energy Program for a FREE webinar, Aug. 17, 2011, on Challenges and Opportunities with Tribal Renewable Energy Development from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Mountain Time.

Utilities in Western’s 15-state territory need renewable energy and renewable energy certificates to meet goals and mandates. Native American tribes have abundant renewable resources on tribal lands, and jobs and economic development would come from building generation projects. This webinar is for tribes who are interested in responding to renewable Requests for Proposals from utilities, or who simply want to learn more about the competitive power market. 

There are many challenges that beset renewable project development—from transmission interconnection and availability to conditions that are unique to each tribe. Speakers from utilities, government agencies and developers will offer their perspectives on how tribes can navigate the obstacles to create winning partnerships that result in successful tribal renewable projects. Expect frank discussions on what utilities expect in a tribal proposal to a renewable RFP, along with examples of success. See the full agenda.

Register online, or contact Guy Nelson at 541-994-4670 or 541-921-1127 for more information. Space is still available so register NOW!

Two Texas wind energy leaders win 2011 Public Power Award

(Note: Submitted to DOE’s blog by Western’s Renewable Energy Program Manager Randy Manion.)

With their successful and creative use of wind power, Texas’ CPS Energy and Denton Municipal Electric beat out 15 other nominees to win the 2011 Public Power Award on June 21, reported the Department of Energy’s blog.

The winners

The two energy providers won for their outstanding contributions in the industry, specifically:

CPS Energy, based in San Antonio, Texas, provides 10 percent of its total energy through its voluntary Windtricity program—and expects to increase this to 20 percent by 2020.

Denton Municipal Electric of Denton, Texas, purchased enough wind power—539,000 MWh—from the Wolf Ridge Wind Farm last fiscal year to power about 49,450 homes. In just one year, Denton’s purchase has reduced air pollution by preventing the release of 424,128 tons of carbon dioxide, 206 tons of nitrogen oxide and 1,257 tons of sulfur dioxide emissions.

The annual Public Power Award, sponsored by the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy’s Wind Powering America initiative and the American Public Power Association, recognizes public power utility companies at the forefront of developing America’s vast wind resources and providing affordable electricity to customers. The program is managed by Western’s Renewable Energy Program.

Purchasing credits to support renewable energy goals

Federal agencies continue to strive toward generating 80 percent of their electricity from clean energy sources by 2035. Supporting this effort are the sale and purchase transactions of Renewable Energy Certificates, or RECs.

Currently, Western’s Upper Great Plains Region is looking to purchase RECs, also known as “green tags,” for several Federal agencies through two different requests for proposals, including:

  • A joint request for 315,000 megawatt-hours of RECs over six years for DOE’s Richland Operations and Berkeley Site offices, the Central Intelligence Agency and the Environmental Protection Agency’s Superfund Program. Bids due by July 1.
  • A request for the National Renewable Energy Laboratory to provide 3,000 MWhs of RECs per year to its Golden Field Office Research Support facility and 629 MWhs of RECs per year to replace solar energy NREL sold to Xcel Energy. Bids due by July 8.

All offers must be for firm, fixed, per-MWh unit prices for each year of the contract term. Once bids have been received, Upper Great Plains will select proposals based on best value.

For more information about the request for proposals, visit Upper Great Plains Power Marketing for RECs website.