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.

Have renewable energy to sell?

Western Area Power Administration is looking to purchase Renewable Energy Certificates, or RECs, on behalf of several Federal agencies.

In the Request for Proposals, also known as RFP, Western is seeking up to 584,000 megawatt-hours of RECs, over a 6-year period. Learn more about the solicitation and about RECs from Western’s press release.

If you’re interested in participating, you must mail or fax a response by July 2, 2010, at 4:30 p.m., MDT. See the current RFP for details on how to submit a proposal.

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.

Pallid sturgeon: Reeling in the big one on the job

Greg Liebelt cradles pallid female, last caught in 1997

Greg Liebelt cradles pallid female, last caught in 1997.

Western’s Upper Great Plains region has supported recovery efforts for the pallid sturgeon since 1992 when a National Recovery Plan for the endangered fish was developed.

Now, more than 18 years later Western is still keeping its commitment. In fact, Montana Environmental Protection Specialist Greg Liebelt joined forces with Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service from North Dakota to recover pallid sturgeon at the confluence of the Yellowstone and Missouri Rivers, April 26.

A total of seven boats from the two agencies, manned with two people teams, used drift nets to capture the elusive pallids. Then the pallids were taken to fish hatcheries at Miles City, Mont., and Garrison, N.D., where they can spawn and ensure the future of more pallids in the Missouri River.

Two-man boat teams use tracking devices and drift nets to capture the pallids.

Two-man boat teams use tracking devices and drift nets to capture the pallids.

During the 3-day operation, where he and his boat mate Ryan Lott, a Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks employee, were fortunate to capture three pallids, including a female last caught in 1997, a male caught last April, and an unknown sex (thought to be a female) last caught in 1996. All three fish were just under 5 feet in length and weighed between 30 to 40 pounds. In addition to the pallids, Greg and Lott caught some other fish, including six paddlefish (one around 70 pounds), one shovel nose sturgeon that was missing its’ tail fin and numerous buffalo carp. Greg said, “You never knew what you were going to find when you started pulling up the net.”

After capturing each pallid, they placed the fish in a holding tank on the boat. “Basically we used a water trough and covered it with a tarp,” explained Greg. “Then we measured each fish for length and weight. We collected blood for analysis and clipped a portion of the fin to test for Iridovirus on the pallids caught back in 1996 and 1997.

Teams used troughs as holding tanks for the pallids

Teams used troughs as holding tanks for the pallids.

Said Greg, “The opportunity to help out with the recovery efforts of the endangered pallid sturgeon was both a rare and fulfilling experience! As a fairly substantial amount of Western’s revenue is generated from the Missouri River, it is pretty awesome to see Western’s involvement towards recovering the pallid sturgeon and seeing how it is helping to make a difference.”

Energy asks, ‘How may I serve you?’

My first question as an electricity fan is: What is an energy service?

Here at Western, an energy service includes both the energy we market and deliver, as well as the information provided on Western’s website to our customers and the public.

For the latter, an energy service can accomplish many things, regardless of how small. A single bit of data can reach the entire world, but only if it is selected. So…any carbon-based unit with a keyboard and a question can get an answer by pushing a button. I invite you to answer questions you have about Western and hydropower using Western’s website as your personal online database.

While you’re here you can learn more about:

Energy–Western serves its energy customers by purchasing Renewable Energy Certificates. Through the Renewable Resources for Federal Agencies program, Western has purchased renewable energy certificates to help meet renewable energy goals set by the Energy Policy Act of 2005. This reduces emissions and fosters markets for emerging energy technologies.

Service–Western delivers energy information to the public with the Green Power News. GPN is a continually upgraded online archive full of energy events and news data bits–24/7.

If you are hungry for energy information, then access a byte of information–Western style.

My next question is: Have I missed anything? Let me know what you think.