ED5 project completes major milestone

The Transmission Infrastructure Program Electrical District 5 – Palo Verde Hub project in Arizona’s Pinal and Maricopa counties reached a major

ED5 project map

Completion of the 22-mile segment between ED5 and Test Track substations represents nearly half of the new and upgraded line construction needed to complete the project.

construction milestone recently with the completion of 22 miles of new 230-kilovolt transmission lines between ED-5 substation and Test Track substation.

The new segment of transmission line represents half of all new construction and line upgrades required for the project, which will increase transmission capacity to deliver renewable energy, primarily solar, to consumers in Arizona, southern Nevada and southern California.

Construction was completed three weeks ahead of schedule, saving Western and the project proponent money and keeping the project on track for early 2015 energization.

The next step in the project is to expand Test Track substation to accomodate the increased transmission capacity. At the same time, the other half of transmission line upgrades will continue through early 2014.

Lovell-to-Yellowtail transmission line rebuild Phase 2 update

Insulation is being used to isolate the wire in the air from the equipment on the ground, as part of Phase II of the Lovell-to-Yellowtail transmission line rebuild project, March 26, 2013

Contractors continue rebuilding two 115-kilovolt transmission lines as part of Phase II of the Lovell-to-Yellowtail project. With work in the Big Horn Canyon National Recreation Area complete in fall 2012, the construction contractor started removing the No. 2 line south of the NRA in Wyoming, March 25, 2013.

Crews have about 10 miles of the No. 2 line down and are working on setting new structures in cultivated fields before irrigation of farm land begins.

While crews work on the No. 2 line, the Lovell-to-Yellowtail No. 1 transmission line continues to deliver power from Yellowtail Dam.

The upgrades to the Lovell-to-Yellowtail transmission lines No. 1 and 2 are needed to replace the original lines built by the Bureau of Reclamation in 1956 and 1966.

You can see more photos of the project’s construction on Flickr.

April snow brings better runoff! Multiple Colorado storms improve snowpack

Many Colorado media outlets are reporting that we are at only 80 percent of snowpack for the water year; but what they are not saying is that we are doing better than last year—and snowpack levels are still rising!

Line chart showing seasonal peaks for CBR for 2012, 2013 and an average of 1981 to 2010.

This line chart compares the average seasonal peaks

The last few storms have improved the runoff outlook; meaning as the snow melts, the runoff water fills Colorado’s streams and rivers. This time last year, the peak snowpack accural was over and the runoff was well under way. Current reports from the Colordao Basin River Forecast Center show that we have surpassed last year’s snowpack peak by about 30 percent and we are still climbing with this week’s storms.

This will certainly improve Western’s hydro conditions forecast for the Rocky Mountain Region. Although our hydro conditions are not back to 100 percent, we hope this year’s total will be improved from last year. Ski resorts may be closing and sad to see that the snow is just now accumulating, but here at Western we are ecstatic and say, “Keep it coming, Mother Nature!”

Mark Gabriel named new Western Administrator

Mark Gabriel photo

Mark Gabriel

DOE announced Mark Gabriel as Western’s new Administrator Apr. 3. Welcome to Western, Mark!

While the DOE announcement provides Mark’s curriculum vitae and relevant background, he gave Western employees a little more personal look shortly after the announcement.

In his first few months at Western, Mark says his top tasks will be to get a sense of the organization, get a solid handle on the critical issues we face and work to understand the intricacies of the place. “It is too early for me to set hard goals, and I have a lot to learn from the team at Western, our customers and our partners at DOE. It will be critical for me to develop an understanding and assessment on the financial situation focusing on the unique challenges faced by Western.” He added, “I will also actively reach out to the customers and staff. The relationship with people is how organizations succeed or fail.”

In addition to being an avid outdoorsman, Mark said, “One of my other hobbies is the history of our great electric industry—that is why I included so much of it in my book, Visions for a Sustainable Energy Future. It may sound corny, but I truly believe that it is a privilege and honor to keep this nation’s vital resource and critical infrastructure operating every day.”

On why he applied to be Western’s Administrator, Mark said, “Western’s mission of delivering clean and reliable power to customers while maintaining our nation’s critical infrastructure aligns perfectly with my beliefs and goals. Having worked in this wonderful business for more than 20 years on a number of critical projects and problems, the opportunity to work for an organization so critical to this nation’s economic vitality and health was too hard to pass up.”

If you could ask Mark one question as he approaches his new job, what would it be?