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.

Western accelerates small business payments

Starting Feb. 1, Western offices in five states and serving customers in 15 states halved payment times to small businesses from 30 to 15 days.

“The new process is working well. Only the Accounts Payable office and purchasing approving officials were impacted,” said Corporate Services Office Fiscal Operations Manager Lynn Hahn. “To most employees involved in procurement or payment of invoices, the process is transparent.”

Western implemented the new process in response to a September 2011 Office of Management and Budget memo, which mandated agencies to accelerate payment dates to small business contractors 15 days after receiving the required documentation instead of the 30-day payment cycle under the Prompt Payment Act.

Check out more at Western’s Newsroom.

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 hosts wind, solar interconnection workshop

Western is teaming up with the Utility Wind Integration Group, American Public Power Association and the Department of Energy’s Wind and Water Power, Solar Energy Technologies and Tribal Energy programs to present the sixth annual Distributed Wind/Solar Interconnection Workshop, Feb. 22 to 24.

The workshop, taking place at Western’s Electric Power Training Center in Golden, Colo., provides a comprehensive overview of wind and solar integration studies. 

Expert speakers will use case studies to answer questions about interconnecting wind and solar plants and other distributed generation applications to electric distribution systems. Participants will get an introduction to UWIG’s Internet-based tools for assessing a distributed wind project’s impact on the local distribution system.

Registration and $300 is required to attend the workshop in person. Those interested can also attend four online sessions for just $99. 

Find out more at Western’s Newsroom or the event announcement.

Ridgeview Classical wins Rocky Mountain regional science bowl

Ridgeview Classical Schools of Fort Collins won the Rocky Mountain Regional Science Bowl Feb. 18 at Poudre High School in Fort Collins, Colo. The winning team, including Jordan Diemer, Artem Bolshakov, Caleb Jhones, Luke Boustred, Alexander Horne and Coach Paula Petterson, advances to Washington, DC, April 26-30 to compete against more than 77 other regional winners in the national finals of the Department of Energy’s National Science Bowl.

Fairview High School of Boulder finished second and Poudre High School of Fort Collins finished third. Find out more at Western’s Newsroom.

Western offers Federal agencies easy tool to go “greener”

Federal agencies interested in meeting their renewable energy goals and mandates, improving the environment and supporting national energy security are invited to join the 2012 renewable energy certificate (REC) solicitation being issued by Western.

Participating in this solicitation is easy: Complete and submit the Statement of Intent for Federal Agencies to Purchase Renewable Resources no later than April 20. Western is also offering a webinar to educate agencies and others on the program and submission process March 14 at 10 a.m. MST. Interested parties need to register.

For more information, visit Western’s Newsroom or the Renewable Resources for Federal Agencies website.

California announces below normal snowpack levels

The California Department of Water Resources announced continuing dry winter conditions in its state-wide survey Feb. 1, which could impact the available water for Western’s Central Valley Project this summer.
 
“Water content in California’s mountain snowpack is far below normal for this time of year,” stated the department’s press release.
 
Overall, the average water content of California’s snowpack was 37 percent of normal for this date. For the CVP area, the relative composition of the Sierra Nevada snowpack was 26 percent of the April 1 seasonal average for the northern Sierras, 20 percent for the central Sierras and 25 percent for the southern Sierras.
 
January is typically one of the wettest months, but with a lack of winter storms, state water managers have begun to express concerns about the need for more rain and snow.
 
“So far, we just haven’t received a decent number of winter storms,” said Department of Water Resources Director Mark Cowin.
 
“Because last year was such an above-normal water year, starting water storage levels for Federal and state storage reservoirs are relatively higher than normal,” said Sierra Nevada Power Marketing Manager Sonja Anderson. This will help delay any affects to the power supply even if the snowpack doesn’t reach its average levels.
 
“As long as California receives normal to near normal precipitation levels for the rest of the water year, water and hydropower output for the Central Valley and state water projects would not be as detrimentally impacted as in past years,” said Anderson.
 
However, any reductions in the output of the Reclamation CVP power plants will raise the cost of Western’s CVP power to customers, which is marketed by the percent of hydropower available.

More Regional Science Bowl winners head to DC for Nat’l competition

Preparing for the National Science Bowl in Washington D.C., the end of April, Western’s regional winners are ramping up.  Of the six regional bowls, two more winners have been named. The first from the Big Sky Science Bowl in Billings, Mont., was Helena High School. The second (reining Nat’l champions) Mira Loma High School from the Sacramento Science Bowl.  Our next regional competition is the Rocky Mountain Science Bowl in Loveland, Colo.

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.