Category: Renewables

Desert Southwest proposes energy credit program for customers

Western’s Desert Southwest Region is seeking comments on its proposed program to make Federal renewable energy credits, or RECs, available to its customers.

DSW released details about the proposed program in a letter delivered to customers and through a new DSW REC website.

States across Western’s service territory are implementing Renewable Portfolio Standard requirements for “green” energy products.  While many of Western’s customers are not yet affected, such requirements continue to evolve and expand to affect more entities.  Federal agencies are already affected by the Federal RPS.  Greenhouse gas requirements are also becoming hot topics in legislatures across the country.

What are RECs?
RECs represent the environmental benefits of renewable energy, sold separately from power generation. This request on behalf of Federal agencies will help meet the government’s renewable energy goals.

Learn more about the proposed program, provide comments and find valuable links at the DSW REC website.

Western joined DOE’s tribal summit, May 4 & 5

Western Administrator Tim Meeks joined several other Department of Energy leaders for the May 4 and 5, 2011 DOE Tribal Summit.

The summit builds on the Department’s continued commitment to partner with Native Americans to support the development of clean energy projects on tribal lands that will help reduce energy use, limit carbon pollution, and create new jobs for tribal communities across the country.

Participants—whether live at the event or joining through the streamed video—had the chance to learn about energy jobs, development of clean energy projects on tribal lands and how to limit carbon pollution in support of tribal communities across the country.

As Western’s service territory covers 15 states and many tribal customers, we have the potential for partnership on energy projects. The event provided an opportunity to talk and share about those prospective energy projects and opportunities. In addition to sitting on a discussion panel, Meeks was able to hear the different tribe’s needs and concerns.

Learn more about the event and see some video on DOE’s Energy Blog post, “Tribal Summit Live.”

Update: DOE has posted a recap of the Tribal Summit and photos from the event.

Minnkota wins 2011 Wind Cooperative award

For the last nine years, Western’s Renewable Energy Program Manager Randy Manion—on behalf of DOE’s Wind Powering America initiative—has sought to recognize cooperatives that lead the pack in wind development.

At the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association’s annual Tech Advantage Conference in Orlando, Fla., March 8 to 11, Manion presented Karen Thingelstad of Minnkota Power Cooperative with the 2011 Wind Cooperative of the Year Award.

Minnkota was recognized for developing North Dakota’s first utility-owned wind turbine and for investing in wind energy through power purchase agreements with several wind projects. Wind energy now represents more than 30 percent of the generation and transmission cooperative’s total member energy requirements, collectively contributing an average of nearly 1,300 gigawatt-hours per year at an average annual capacity factor of 41 percent.

Read the whole story on the Department of Energy’s EnergyBlog.

Renewable Transmission Webinar

Western is co-sponsoring the Sonoran-Mojave Renewable Transmission Project Preliminary Feasibility Study webinar. The one-hour webinar co-sponsored with the Solar Electric Power Association is Feb. 24, 2011 at 11 a.m., PST. The webinar will first focus on the activities of Western’s Transmission Infrastructure Program.  Attendees will also learn about other transmission project news and about the collaborative process that produced the SMRT study. The intended audience includes distribution and transmission engineers, system planners, grid operators, supply and procurement staff, renewable program managers and strategic planners.

Federal agencies offered easy tool to go “greener”

Federal agencies interested in meeting their renewable energy and/or greenhouse gas goals and mandates, improving the environment and supporting national energy security are invited to join the 2011 renewable energy certificate solicitation being issued by the U.S. Department of Energy, Western Area Power Administration and Federal Energy Management Program.

Participating in this solicitation is easy: download and complete the Statement of Intent for Federal Agencies to Purchase Renewable Resources available on the Renewable Resources for Federal Agencies website. Fax or e-mail the completed form to Mike Radecki at 406-255-2900 no later than May 15. Western will competitively procure the desired RECs with FEMP covering the administrative cost of the solicitation, a savings that will accrue to the participants. To learn more about this service offered by Western and FEMP, visit the Renewable Resources for Federal Agencies website.

Join us at 10 a.m. MST on March 8, for a 45-minute webinar covering the key requirements and steps associated with this REC purchase. To register for this event, send an e-mail to Debbie Rock or call her at 720-962-7271.
To learn more about this service offered by Western and FEMP, visit the Renewable Resources for Federal Agencies website.

What are RECs?
RECs represent the environmental benefits of renewable energy, sold separately from power generation. This request on behalf of Federal agencies will help meet the government’s renewable energy goals.

Western is extending public scoping comment deadline for wind projects

Wind mills in a fieldWestern is extending the deadline for scoping comments for the proposed Hyde County Wind Energy Center and Crowned Ridge Wind Energy Center projects from Jan. 14, 2011 to midnight Jan. 31, 2011.

Western published separate Federal Register Notices of Intent to prepare Environmental Impact Statements for the Hyde County Wind Energy Center Project and the Crowned Ridge Wind Energy Center Project in November 2010. Both Notices of Intent specified a 45-day public scoping period, which would end on Jan. 14, 2011. Western received a request for an extension of the public scoping period deadline to Jan. 30, 2010, due to the holidays. Western is granting that request.

The public is invited to submit comments on either proposed project at any time during the EIS process.

For more information about the extension, see the Jan. 18 Federal Register Notice.

Public Hearing on Rice Solar Energy Interconnection Project

Rice Solar Energy, is proposing the Rice Solar Energy Project, a 150-megawatt solar project in Riverside County, Calif. RSE has requested to interconnect this project to Western’s power transmission system. Western and the Bureau of Land Management are cooperating in the preparation of an EIS for this interconnection request along with the California Energy Commission to satisfy NEPA requirements.

Western and the BLM will hold a public hearing on the draft EIS on January 5, 2011, in Palm Desert, Calif., with the public comment period closing on January 20, 2011.

Study: Transmission feasible for southwestern renewable energy

Development of about 9,500 to 12,500 megawatts of transmission capacity is technically feasible according to the November 2010 Sonoran-Mojave Renewable Transmission Project,  or SMRT, Preliminary Feasibility Study, released Dec. 8.

The study looked at a number of potential new transmission lines and upgrades to existing lines that would, if constructed, provide new transmission capacity in Arizona, California and Nevada primarily to support additional renewable resources, provide wholesale and retail markets with access to those resources and provide a more robust transmission grid.

The study was jointly developed and funded by a diverse group of energy interests that voluntarily band together to determine the technical feasibility of the lines and explore potential business arrangements to develop SMRT. With the preliminary study complete, the next steps will include soliciting interest in transmission service from renewable developers and other customers to assess SMRT’s economic viability.

The study report is also available on Western’s Recovery webpage at

Workshop attendees talk transmission, solar development

A group of four people holding papers and talking

DSW Federal Power Program Manager Debby Emler, left, Regulatory Affairs and Contracts Supervisor Mark Mitchell, Arizona Power Authority’s Mike Gazda and DSW Regional Manager Darrick Moe discuss issues before the first Opening Transmission Constraints for Solar Development Locally and in the West Workshop held June 17th at Arizona State University.

More than 40 people representing utilities, tribes, solar developers and state officials gathered to discuss access to the Palo Verde hub and potential opportunities to move utility-scale solar generation from Arizona to market at last month’s Opening Transmission Constraints for Solar Development Locally and in the West workshop.

At the June 17 workshop, attendees learned about:

Participants also engaged in an open dialogue about next steps.

“This is the first of its kind for this region,” said Western’s Desert Southwest Federal Power Program Manager Debby Emler. “Previously, we waited for something to happen or someone to come to us, and we would react to the situation. Now, Western is in a more proactive stance. We’re looking for ways to provide the West with renewable resources, as well as finding ways to tie the developers with the utilities. This workshop did just that.”

“Together the renewable program in the West will grow,” said Emler. “Apart, it would be like the ‘chicken and the egg’ scenario; who comes first? Is the transmission built first in hopes that the developer then builds the solar project? Or does the developer build their resource in hopes that they will be able to connect to the electric grid. Without each other, nothing happens.”

All in all, it was a good start to the discussion. Mike Gazda from Arizona Power Authority agreed, saying, “It’s a good start. We just have to keep the ball rolling, keep the discussions flowing.”

See the Renewables Partnership website for more information about the presentations given at the workshop.

Reliable, renewable energy from snow

Recreational boaters enjoying Lake Powell in a small canyon.Increased runoff means payoff for Upper Colorado River Basin and customers. With inflow increasing, reliable electricity generation becomes more of a reality. Water elevation at Lake Powell fluctuates in the course of the year, reaching its lowest point usually in March before runoff begins, and reaching its highest point in July when the spring runoff is done.
This year, Inflow (runoff) into Lake Powell peaked for the year at 54,000 cfs (as measured at the Cataract Canyon gauge) on June 11 and is now gradually declining. The elevation of Lake Powell is 3,633 feet currently and has increased about 14 feet (yeah) from its lowest point earlier this spring.  Releases from Lake Powell will be about 8.23 million acre-feet in 2010.