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.
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.
Helicopter assists DSW linemen with insulator change.
Desert Southwest linemen show us an example of an insulator change using an N619DE helicopter. This is a relatively new work process that began early this year. It allows repairs like this to be completed very quickly resulting in shorter outage times and much less cost compared to conventional methods such as bringing in a bucket truck. All required tools and hardware are also flown into the structure tower.
DSW linemen installing new insulator
The first step is the helicopter removes the old insulator from its cradle. The pilot then flies in the new insulator and sets the end of it onto the cradle of the old insulator. The linemen guide the new insulator horizontally into the cradle as the pilot lowers it down. The linemen then attach the insulator to hardware and conductor.
Meeting Transmission Challenges in the Rocky Mountain Region, a workshop held June 21 in Fort Collins, Colo., proved that “if you plan it, they will come.”
Western brought together transmission customers, tribes, developers, state and Federal agencies and utilities to discuss Western’s transmission planning and services and to discuss transmission challenges in the region.
“There is need for transmission to support new generation across Western’s 15-state service territory,” said RM Contracts and Energy Services Specialist and workshop host Bob Langenberger. “But there are regulations, competing state needs and the question of where generation is built and the transmission to get it to market.”
With several organizations and different interests represented, the workshop pointed out the common desire to develop interconnections to the transmission system. “It’s important to come together, identify all those interests and find good investment solutions that best meet those desires, while maintaining the power grid’s reliability,” said Desert Southwest’s Transmission Services Manager Ron Moulton.
Moulton recognized how important this meeting was for Western and its customers. He explained, “There’s a considerable amount of energy needs in Western’s service territory. It’s important for us to understand customer needs and concerns to meet those needs in an environmentally-friendly and cost effective way.”
Read the full story at Energy Services Bulletin.
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.
Western employees on the job
A Western Electronic Equipment Foreman in the Rocky Mountain Region makes a fiber connection to a new 25 megavolt-ampere transformer that was installed in April 2010.
Western employees work 24/7 to keep electric power flowing across the West. Without dedicated employees like this we’d be left in the dark.
Western energized two new transmission line segments of the Sacramento Area Voltage Support Project, May 21, readying the line just in time for California’s summer season operations.
The 230-kilovolt line from O’Banion Substation in Sutter County to the Sacramento Municipal Utility District’s Elverta Substation in Sacramento County came online at about 11 a.m., followed by the 230-kV line from O’Banion Substation to SMUD’s Natomas Substation in Sacramento County at about 2 p.m.
See full news release for photos and more information about the project.
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.
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.
Western is considering a partnership on a TransWest Express project in which Western would provide the funding through Section 402 of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.
The TWE project consists of about 725 to 800 miles of 600-kV direct current overhead transmission line to deliver renewable energy from Wyoming to the Desert Southwest Region. The TWE project starts near Rawlins, Wyo., through Nephi, Utah, and on to the Las Vegas, Nev., area. Western and the Bureau of Land Management published a Notice of Intent to Prepare an Environmental Impact Statement in the Federal Register on Jan. 4, initiating a 90-day public scoping period. The BLM and Western expect to hold 22 open-house meetings at various locations in Wyoming, Colorado, Utah and Nevada during the public scoping period.
BLM staff, Western staff and project proponents will be available at the public meetings to explain project details and gather information from interested individuals or groups. The exact dates, times and locations for these meetings will be announced at least 15 days before the event through local media, newspapers, newsletters and posting on the Western and BLM websites. The first round of meetings are listed on BLM’s TWE Scoping meeting schedule page.