Category: Maintenance

Blog ending–Visit us on Flickr, YouTube

At Western we’re always looking for ways to increase dialogue with our customers and the public. In 2012, we launched a YouTube channel and Flickr account and have found them to be more convenient ways to share our story with you. So follow us on those sites, where you can see Western in action.

What you’ll find:

This will be our last post to Western’s Connections blog. The site will remain available as an archive. We hope to see you on our website, Flickr and YouTube.

Lovell-to-Yellowtail project checks halfway point

Lovell-to-Yellowtail Phase II

A contractor works on an H-frame structure along the Lovell-to-Yellowtail No. 1 transmission line, or LV-YT No. 1, June 26, 2013. (Photo by Ryan Sharp)

Construction work on the two Lovell-to-Yellowtail transmission lines, which run between Lovell, Wyo., and Yellowtail Dam, Mont., continues to progress according to schedule.

The dual 94-mile, 115-kilovolt lines that carry power from Yellowtail Dam in Montana are undergoing a badly needed rebuild as many of their components can trace their origins to their construction in 1956 and 1966 by the Bureau of Reclamation.  

“Many of the existing poles are in immediate need of replacement,” said Rocky Mountain Project Manager Travis Anderson.

The project is in the middle of the second phase, which includes rebuilding about 16 miles of each line that run both north and south of the National Park Service Big Horn National Recreation Area and Crow Reservation. Read more »

Marking our lines – ‘Send in the chopper’

The South Dakota Capital Journal published a photo and video today, July 10, showing contractors working from a helicopter to replace line indicators (balls) on a  stretch of Western’s transmission line in the local area.

The indicators warn low-flying aircraft that the line is there.

Contractor works on a transmission line from a helicopter

Contractor adds line indicators to a transmission line in South Dakota from a helicopter. (Photo/video by Capital Journal)

Western supports N.J. power restoration efforts

Linemen prepare for journey to N.J.

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.

Blue Mesa Dam drilling through Oct. 2

Bureau of Reclamation drilling crews began working on the crest of Blue Mesa Dam, Sept. 12, continuing through about Oct. 2. Workers will drill three sample holes and install equipment in one of the holes to monitor dam activity.

The information gleaned from the core samples and equipment will be used by Reclamation for consideration of short and long-term performance of the dam related to dam safety and security measures.

Blue Mesa Dam is the first of three dams, including Morrow Point and Crystal Dams, which create the Wayne N. Aspinall Unit of the Colorado River Storage Project from which Western markets hydropower. The drilling will not impact hydropower generation.

One in a million: Western restores power quickly to Cody, Wyo., Feb. 23

Western’s line crew from the Cody maintenance shop string new cable on the Big George-to-Glendale Tap 69-kV line after a winter storm took down the line Feb. 23, causing an outage in northwest Wyoming.

On the surface, the outage that affected northwest Wyoming at about 9:10 a.m. Feb. 23 seems straight forward: A winter storm took down a 69-kilovolt transmission line north of Cody near the Park County Regional Landfill, thrusting the local utilities and the residents of Cody, Powell, Willwood, Garland and Ralston into darkness for nearly two hours.

Power was restored at about 10:50 a.m., but it wasn’t because the downed line was back on the towers.

The evening before, another event about 60 miles away from the downed line, probably caused by wind swinging the cables, called conductors, too close together on the Lovell-to-North Cody 69-kV transmission line, cut off the back-up power feed to the area through the Lovell Substation. This problem left the Big George-to-Glendale Tap 69-kV line the only power source in the area.

 “This was a one in a million deal for us,” said Cody Field Manager Doug Padgett, who responded to the Lovell Substation. “You had two separate, distinct problems caused by two separate, distinct events. It was not expected at all.”

Check out the full story on how Western and the local community worked together to restore power in Wyoming at Western’s Newsroom.

Western helps neighboring utility overcome storm damage

Lineman Ryan Wheeler from Western’s Redding maintenance office uses a hot stick to remove snow from a transmission line.

Lineman Ryan Wheeler from Western’s Redding maintenance office uses a hot stick to remove snow from a transmission line.

A Western Sierra Nevada line crew heeded a call for mutual aid and assistance from a neighboring utility and customer Jan. 20 in response to the unexpectedly severe Pacific Northwest winter storm, which had extensively damaged the utility’s local transmission system.

Western’s Sierra Nevada Region Redding line crew worked closely with linemen from Trinity Public Utilities District along steep and rugged terrain Jan. 20 through 22 to restore power to the citizens of Weaverville, Douglas City, Lewistown and Hayfork in northern California, or about 8,000 citizens.

Read more at Western’s Newsroom.

Planning reliable power delivery for the future

Recently, the Western’s Desert Southwest Region updated its 10-year Capital Program. The Fiscal Year 2012 Capital Program provides both a capital investment plan, as well as a funding plan, that will ensure reliable power delivery to Western’s customers.

The updated program booklet clearly describes DSW’s strategy to construct and repair Western’s transmission lines; it entails DSW’s current goals and challenges to maintain reliability and outlines its major accomplishments for FY 2011; it also provides an opportunity for customer collaboration.

Program aligns Western’s, customers’ goals

The Capital Program is an ongoing project revised annually in response to approved funding allocations for the budget year, changes in project priority, unforeseen problems with the transmission system, mandates or regulatory requirements and new contractual requirements.

Fluctuations in funding make it difficult to plan which projects to carry out and at what pace to complete them. Appropriated funds don’t carry over from year to year, which means any excess funding that is still available at the end of the fiscal year cannot be used in subsequent years.

In FY 2010, Western and its customers decided that the best way to address the ongoing funding struggle was to use prepayment funding for selected construction projects, and it has significantly helped DSW’s position. Customers prepay for transmission services, providing a source of funds to cover some of the appropriations shortfalls. Projects that are proposed for pre-payment are first submitted for funding through the typical appropriated funding process.

The use of pre-payment funding is beneficial to both Western and its customers and has provided a significant, and consistent, source of construction dollars since its inception.

Projects see 2011 success, 2012 schedules

Despite appropriated funding issues in FY 2011, DSW completed several construction and RRAD projects. “DSW customers are very satisfied with our progress, particularly in the last two years since we’ve been working prepayment projects. DSW customers are able to see their money at work and that helps build our credibility as an organization and develops a relationship of trust and  cooperation,” said Project Manager Chris Lyles.

With FY 2012 already in progress, all projects scheduled for execution this year are dependent on the receipt of adequate appropriated funding in a timely manner.

The 10-year Capital Program is the means for identifying, prioritizing, scheduling and funding projects that directly affect Western and its customers. It is essential to meeting Western’s mission of providing reliable power to its customers.

Learn more about DSW’s 10-year Capital Plan.

Line crew learns how to save lives with helicopter

Western’s Desert Southwest helicopter line maintenance crew conducted tower rescue training Oct. 18 – 19 and again Nov. 3 to learn how to rescue an injured or endangered lineman on a tower using helicopter-assisted short haul procedures.

 

Short haul is relatively new technique for the U.S. that has been used for decades in Europe.  Equipment and people are carried to and from towers dangled under a helicopter by a 50 to 100 foot line.

 

DSW is exploring how the technique could be used on their lines to improve safety, increase productivity and decrease the time and physical burden of climbing up and down several towers a day to conduct routine maintenance.

 

The initial training took two days: one in the classroom and another on an out-of-service line near Phoenix where linemen and pilots practiced saving “Rescue Randy,” the DSW maintenance dummy. The Nov. 3 hands-on training ensured the crew retained the knowledge they learned.

 

“In a remote setting, if we were to have an emergency, the new rescue techniques affords us the ability to perform a short-haul rescue and get the victim to urgent care a lot quicker and safely,” said Foreman II Richard “Bo” Mortensen.

 

For more information, visit Western’s Newsroom.