Category: Transmission work

Tribal webinar to discuss today’s energy needs, yesterday’s grid

Western Area Power Administration, the U.S. DOE Office of Indian Energy Policy and Programs, and the DOE Tribal Energy Program are offering a free, informative webinar and discussion May 30 on how utilities’ generation portfolios are changing, often faster than the grid infrastructure that supports it, and the challenges currently being faced to integrate new generation and demand (load) response technologies into a grid that was designed to operate a different way.

There is no charge to attend the webinar; however, you must register to participate.

Tribal utility managers and resource engineers will hear information on (1) key findings in the MIT Energy Initiative Report on the changes needed in the U.S. transmission grid to handle expected challenges such as the influx of electric cars and wind and solar generation and (2) the Western Grid Group’s Clean Energy Vision Project, which charts a sustained, orderly transition from the carbon intensive electricity system of today to a cleaner, smarter and healthier electricity system of the future.

The webinar is chaired by Jay Caspary, with Southwest Power Pool and on assignment to the DOE Office of Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability. The two speakers are Dr. Richard Schmalensee and Dr. Carl Linvill.

Dr. Schmalensee is the Director of the MIT Center for Energy and Environmental Policy Research at the MIT Sloan School of Management. Dr. Schmalensee was co-chair of the recent MIT Energy Initiative report on The Future of the Electric Grid. Dr. Linvill is Director of Integrated Energy Analysis and Planning with Aspen Environmental Group and a member of the Western Grid Group. He is a major contributor to the Clean Energy Vision Project.

For more information on this and the other tribal webinars, visit http://www.repartners.org/#tribeseries.

Western holds Tribal webinar on transmission policy

Western conducted an Unwinding Transmission Policies webinar for 30 Native American Tribes and other interested parties Feb. 29 to explain what transmission policy is, how it is established and who enforces it. FERC Order 1000 and its possible impact to transmission resources were also discussed.

Questions ranged from whether Western would be releasing a renewable request for proposals to very specific issues regarding FERC policy.

“[It] was a well-done presentation. I appreciated [the speaker]’s organized and thoughtful approach to such a complex topic,” said Jan Bush, an environmental planner at Transcon Environmental. “When the recorded presentation becomes available, I would like to share it with the environmental planning staff here at Transcon.

This is the fourth webinar Western has held in partnership with the DOE Office of Indian Energy Policy and Programs and the DOE Tribal Energy Program.

Check out more, including audio recordings and presentations, in Western’s press release.

Western, UWIG wind, solar workshop imparts interconnection knowledge

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.

DSW makes power lines more visible to protect wildlife

Seeing a flock of birds on a transmission line can be an amazing sight, and although birds can perch safely on electrical wires, colliding with them can cause injury or death. When power lines are near lakes and ponds, the risk of collision increases. This is the case of the birds of Lake Watson in Prescott, Ariz.

Desert Southwest Apprentice Lineman Horacio Adriano installs bird diverters on Western’s Prescott-Pinnacle Peak 230-kilovolt line.

Desert Southwest Apprentice Lineman Horacio Adriano installs line-marking devices on Western’s Prescott-Pinnacle Peak 230-kilovolt line.

In January, a five-man Desert Southwest maintenance crew, led by Foreman II Lineman Ronnie Martinez, installed line-marking devices, or LMDs, on Western’s Prescott-to-Pinnacle Peak 230-kilovolt line. “This is the first time DSW Maintenance crews took on a project like this so it was a good experience for all involved,” said Line Crew Foreman III Mark DePoe.

DSW installed the LMDs because residents of Lake Watson were worried that the birds using the lake were colliding with the overhead ground wires, and asked Western to help. Although there was no evidence of bird collisions near the lines, DSW’s Environmental group decided to install the devices. “Our power lines run east and west in that area and pass just southwest of the lake. Although we haven’t seen bird causalities in the area, we agreed to install the LMDs before anything hap-pened. We pride ourselves on being good neighbors and environmental stewards,” explained DePoe.

Before installation, the line was de-energized, and crew members thoroughly inspected the overhead ground wires for damage as a safety precaution. ἀe devices are staggered 50 feet apart  on each of the overhead ground wires.

DSW installed LMDs that clamp onto overhead ground wires. They are made of light plastic and reflective tape so they can easily swivel in the wind, and since they are not stationary, they are more likely visible to birds. “The birds will see [the devices] and not collide with the overhead ground wires,” said DePoe.

Although Lake Watson residents have not experienced an outage from bird collisions on the Prescott-to-Pinnacle Peak line, animals are one of the main causes of power outages in Western’s territory. Biologist Misti Schriner shared, “Western is actively involved in Avian Power Line Interaction Committee efforts to under-stand and educate the utility industry and conservation groups about the nature of power lines and birds.”

Western’s proactive approach to the situation, coupled with the collaborative effort between Maintenance, Environment and the community, created a win-win situation for everyone.

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 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.

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.

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.