Watts Up is a first place cow

Western’s Upper Great Plains Region gets in the spirit in their local community and wins top honors. Participating in the 19th annual Great

Scarecrow contest winner, Watts Up - a cow created from farm equipment

Lisa Wolf (l) and Jack Winter (r) win the humorous award for Western's Huron employees' association

Scarecrow Festival, the Huron employees associations’ “Watts Up!” cow–a metal cow made out of old farm parts and other junk–competed against 33 other scarecrows taking the humorous scarecrow commercial/organization award and earning the traveling trophy.

Watts Up is a metal cow constructed from a fuel barrel welded to an old truck frame with a front and rear axle from an old truck. The whole idea was to make it from used junk; and, if it were farm-related, that was even better. Read more »

Thoughtlessly saving energy at work

3 ways you (probably) save energy without knowing it!

I’m an early-riser; so when I get to the office, the lights are off, the coffee pot isn’t percolating and all the computers are hibernating. Since we’re still on daylight saving time, it’s pretty dark for my first hour of work. As I start the day, there are a few things I do first-thing that save energy without me really thinking about it. Here’s what I do:

  • Use task lighting. Our office lighting is automatically set up to switch on in the morning. When I get in, well before the timer goes off, I just use my task light above my desk to help me work instead of turning the lights on early. (Of course, I switch it back off when the lights pop on.)
  • Keep a sweater at work. Again, our office automatically kicks on the heat during fall and winter months. When it’s just a bit to cool for me, I slip on my office sweater or grab a cup of tea and wait for the automatic system to do its work.
  • Take the stairs. OK, I know this one sounds lame … but in addition to helping get my blood pumping in the morning, taking the stairs (and not the elevator) for two stories up, exercises my power instead of electric power.

All in all, these are simple things I do every day that save energy without a second thought.

So what are your favorite, easy solutions for saving or conserving energy? Read more »

Regional utilities gather in Colorado to talk energy efficiency

More than 100 electric utilities and industry representatives attended the sixth annual Rocky Mountain Utility Efficiency Exchange in Aspen, Colo., Oct. 10 to12.

Ron Ebenkamp, Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association, invites Robin O'Day, San Isabel Electric; Ray Pierotti, La Plata Electric; Gary Myers, Poudre Valley; and Craig Tate, Holy Cross Energy, to discuss the major role lighting programs continue to play in utility energy-efficiency portfolios at the sixth annual Rocky Mountain Utility Efficiency Exchange in Aspen, Colo., Oct. 10. The networking event lasted three days and allowed local water and energy utilities to share best practices in efficiency, renewable energy, demand response and key account customer management programs.

Ron Ebenkamp, Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association, invites Robin O'Day, San Isabel Electric; Ray Pierotti, La Plata Electric; Gary Myers, Poudre Valley; and Craig Tate, Holy Cross Energy, to discuss the major role lighting programs continue to play in utility energy-efficiency portfolios at the sixth annual Rocky Mountain Utility Efficiency Exchange in Aspen, Colo., Oct. 10.

Co-sponsored by Western’s Energy Services office, the networking event provided energy and water utilities serving Colorado and neighboring states an open forum to learn and teach how to implement efficiency, renewable energy, demand response and key account customer management programs with their peers.

Read more »

Western receives DOI award for conservation, watershed planning

Western was one of 17 organizations presented a “Partners in Conservation” award by the Deputy Secretary of the Interior today at a ceremony in Washington D.C. for participation in the Colorado River Basin Water Supply and Demand Study.

The Colorado River Basin Water Supply and Demand Study is a joint effort among more than 70 Federal and state agencies, Native American tribes, environmental groups and other organizations to establish a common foundation for resolving future water supply and demand imbalances. According to Interior, it is the largest, most comprehensive basin-wide analysis ever undertaken and will serve as a model for watershed planning and planning for future growth and climate change near the Colorado River.

Read more »

Burrowing owls call Phoenix office home

Western’s customer service territory shares the land with a great diversity of wildlife. Sometimes we even share the borders of our office buildings’ grounds with fascinating and interesting creatures. In the Desert Southwest region’s Phoenix office, employees work while 10 to 15 burrowing owls live just outside their door.

Three burrowing owls watch employees walk by at Desert Southwest’s Phoenix office, just as they do most mornings.

Three burrowing owls watch employees walk by at Desert Southwest’s Phoenix office, just as they do most mornings.

The convenience of being near wildlife brings some happiness to employees. “We all enjoy having [the owls] here at DSW. We have this great opportunity to be close to the wildlife and observe their living habits,” said Supply Technician Mary Bergeron.

As a result of an increasing human population leading to more residential and commercial development on agricultural land and prairies, wildlife species like the burrowing owl lose their natural nesting areas. For safety, health and conservation reasons, displaced owls are often relocated to man-made nesting structures like the one at the DSW yard.

In 2004, the Arizona Game and Fish Department conducted a study to determine the effectiveness of relocation efforts of burrowing owls to artificial burrows. They also wanted to establish relocation guidelines and recommendations for future management plans. As part of this study, AGFD monitored up to 50 relocation clusters throughout Arizona, including the one at DSW. On a regular basis, AGFD biologists would collect data on owl behavior, confirm the new burrow system was working, place bands on young birds to track their movements and make sure the site was still suitable for the owls. DSW’s artificial owl burrows are constructed of a PVC pipe system that is buried underground.

Unfortunately, the funding for this project ended after 2007, and the AGFD has not monitored the DSW birds for several years. Even so, DSW’s feathery neighbors are living happy lives today. If a funding source is secured in the future, the AGFD would like to continue monitoring the birds.

Learn more about burrowing owls.

Estes Park, Loveland citizens share ideas during alternative design workshops for Estes-Flatiron transmission project

 

Neighbors, local government officials and Western representatives gathered around a large map during workshop meetings, Oct. 2 to 4, where they discussed options for an upgrade to combine two transmission lines into one right of way.  Both lines feed the Town of Estes and other nearby communities in Colorado with energy.

Drawing alternative routes with colored markers, neighbors talked about how different paths for the power line could impact the environment, their neighbors and the scenic views of their town and surrounding national forests. For some participants, it was an educational experience in the complexity of differing views and issues that came up regarding their ideas.

The collective thoughts and considerations of these engaged citizens will help Western Area Power Administration determine the alternatives it will review in its draft environmental impact statement for the Estes-Flatiron Transmission Line Rebuild Project.

Western is preparing to analyze how different alternatives for rebuilding or maintaining the transmission system will provide reliable power and impact the environment, landowners and surrounding communities. With high public interest for this project, Western extended the scoping period through Oct. 19 to work with the local communities to:

  1. Identify transmission line route options
  2. Gather input on design/structure features
  3. Understand the many issues and impacts with any alternative route

Get involved
If you would like to provide input on route alternatives or structure design, take the time to examine the scoping and alternative development materials and reply to Western by Oct. 19. The input will help Western and cooperating agencies identify alternatives to be analyzed in the draft environmental impact statement.