Aberdeen Central High School wins S.D. regional science bowl

South Dakota Regional Science Bowl winners

Aberdeen Central’s Team No. 2 was the winner of the 2012 South Dakota Regional Science Bowl held Saturday at Huron Event Center. The team qualified for the national tournament this April in Washington, D.C. Pictured are, from left, Coach Janet Palmer, Diana Peck, Matthew Guthmiller, Patrick Dawn, Coach Chuck Hermansen and Luke Malsom. (Photo courtesy of Sean M.X. Kelley, Plainsman newspaper)

Aberdeen Central High School Team 2 of Aberdeen, S.D., won the South Dakota Regional Science Bowl Jan. 21 at the Huron Event Center. The winning team, including Diana Peck, Patrick Dawn, Matthew Guthmiller and Luke Malsom and Coaches Jan Palmer and Chuck Hermansen, advances to Washington, D.C., April 26-30 to compete against 77 other regional winners in the national finals of the Department of Energy’s National Science Bowl.

Aberdeen Central High School Team 1 finished second and Rapid City Central High School of Rapid City, S.D., finished third.

Twenty-one teams from high schools all over South Dakota competed for the regional title. Many of these teams spent months preparing for this regional event, which features head-to-head competition in a fast-paced question and answer format similar to Jeopardy. The students competed to be the first to answer questions on all science disciplines including astronomy, biology, chemistry, earth science, mathematics and physics, as well as math.

This is the 19th year for the South Dakota Regional Science Bowl hosted by Western Area Power Administration. Science Bowl encourages high school students to excel in math and science and to pursue careers in those fields.

More than 13,000 high school students from schools in 46 states and Puerto Rico will compete in the national competition. Since 1991, more than 130,000 students and teachers have participated.

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.

National Science Bowl returns

Western regions are preparing again for the annual National Science Bowl, a Department of Energy led competition that pits teams of high school and middle school students against one another in the fields of science and math.

Four-person teams first compete at a regional level, and winners advance to compete nationally at an annual event in Washington, D.C. This year, the national competition is April 26-30. Last year, the Mira Loma High School team from the Western-sponsored Sacramento Regional Science Bowl in California won 1st place.

Admission to the regional events is free, and everyone is encouraged to attend and cheer on their local schools. Additionally, regional competitions are always looking for volunteers to help with timekeeping, asking questions, scoring and other tasks.

So check out your local regional competition hosted by Western:

South Dakota Regional Science Bowl - Jan. 21
Sacramento Regional Science Bowl - Feb. 4
Rocky Mountain Regional Science Bowl - Feb. 4
North Dakota Science Bowl - Feb. 4
Big Sky Regional Science Bowl - Feb. 4
Arizona Regional Science Bowl - March 3

Good luck teams!

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.

Western to hold opportunity session for Colorado’s small businesses

Western’s Small Business Program is leading a business opportunity session for Denver and Colorado Springs small businesses Jan. 18 from 9 a.m. to noon at Western’s Corporate Services Office in Lakewood, Colo.

The session will develop connections between small businesses and Federal acquisition and program managers and will include breakout sessions, networking, familiarization with Western’s acquisition process and opportunities for small businesses in fiscal year 2012.

There is no cost to attend, and no reservations required. For more information, contact Cheryl Drake at drake@wapa.gov.

Western’s Small Business Program achieved great success in FY 2011. Western awarded 71 percent of its appropriated funds to small businesses, nearly tripling the government-wide goal of 23 percent. Western also outpaced Department of Energy objectives for Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned, Women-Owned and Small Disadvantaged small businesses, among others.

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.

Infrared Camera Workshop Jan. 9

An Infrared Camera Workshop being held on Jan. 9, 2012 in Billings, Mont., is a partnership with Western and Montana State University Billings-College of Technology. This one-day workshop offers your utility hands-on training in Fluke and Flir infrared cameras’ technology and software, as well as guidance on integrating IR cameras into efficiency program development and utility O&M.

This unique workshop presents insight into designing an IR program, reading IR images for utility applications, field training with cameras and how to work with customers to use IR camera data.

See Western’s Energy Services Web page to register and see the agenda for the workshop. Seating is limited to first come first serve, so register today.