Colorado-Big Thompson agreement: Protecting water from fire risk

[COLORADO-A-0033] Big Thompson Dam (Dille Diversion Dam)

Big Thompson Dam (Source: waterarchives.org)

The Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and Interior Secretary Sally Jewell announced July 19 a federal, local and private partnership that will reduce the risks of wildfire to America’s water supply in western states.

To support the Western Watershed Enhancement Partnership, the Forest Service and Bureau of Reclamation will kick off the new partnership through a pilot in the Upper Colorado Headwaters and Big Thompson watershed in Northern Colorado. The partnership will include the Northern Colorado Water Conservancy District and Colorado State Forest Service and builds off of past agreements between the Forest Service and municipal water suppliers, such as Denver Water’s Forest to Faucets partnership.

Western’s Administrator Mark Gabriel and several other employees attended the event as the Colorado-Big Thompson is a trans-mountain diversion river system from which hydropower is generated and marketed.

Read USDA’s press release on their website.

Ramping up reliability in the Southwest

After the September 2011 large-scale power outage in southwestern Arizona and southern California, evaluations and reports of the incident stated both Western and Arizona Public Service needed to provide additional voltage support to the region in a very short timeframe. To meet the recommendations, Western and APS combined resourCapacitor banks at Kofa Substationces to install three, 15 megavar capacitors banks at the Kofa Substation. This project will provide voltage support to the Parker-Davis 161-kV system, which will support the heavy load growth in the Yuma, Ariz., area, as well as the Southwest Power Link transfers. The kicker of the project was that it had to be accelerated so it was completed before the heavy summer loads.

Through the partnership, Western provided the design and procured equipment to aid in the construction of the project and APS provided the contractor (Wilson Construction Company), procured additional equipment and installed the equipment with Western’s construction oversight.

The project was completed safely and on schedule thanks to the hard work and dedication from Western, APS and Wilson Construction. “Our thanks to all those that participated for their combined efforts and willingness to work together to ensure the reality of this project in such a short timeframe,” said Mike Garcia, a Desert Southwest engineering project manager.

Meeting Western’s commitment to provide additional voltage stability to the region before the heavier summer energy demand in 2013 ensures critical voltage control going forward.

Marking our lines – ‘Send in the chopper’

The South Dakota Capital Journal published a photo and video today, July 10, showing contractors working from a helicopter to replace line indicators (balls) on a  stretch of Western’s transmission line in the local area.

The indicators warn low-flying aircraft that the line is there.

Contractor works on a transmission line from a helicopter

Contractor adds line indicators to a transmission line in South Dakota from a helicopter. (Photo/video by Capital Journal)

TransWest Express Project Draft EIS available

Overview map of TransWest Express Project

Overview map of TransWest Express Project

The Bureau of Land Management announced the publication of the TransWest Express Transmission Project Draft Environmental Impact Statement July 3.  The release of the Draft EIS begins a 90-day public comment period that will include thirteen public meetings hosted by Western and the BLM scheduled throughout the project area.  The Draft EIS and schedule of public meetings are available on BLM’s TranWest Express Project website.

Western’s Administrator Mark Gabriel said, “This is a major milestone in the NEPA process, and we hope people read the draft EIS and provide comments. We [Western] are here to help strengthen the energy highway by connecting communities with reliable power and renewable generation. The results of the final NEPA review and other analyses will guide us when we decide whether to continue to participate in the project beyond the development phase.”

The TransWest Express Transmission Project is a proposed 725 mile, 600-kV direct current transmission line that may provide up to 3,000 MW of capacity. The line would extend from south central Wyoming, to the El Dorado Valley south of Las Vegas, Nevada, and would facilitate the delivery of Wyoming wind generation resources to load centers in Nevada, Arizona, and California.

Western is proposing to participate as a joint owner of the TWE Project; a decision on whether to be a joint owner will be made when the development phase is complete. Western is authorized to contribute up to $25 million of its $3.25

billion borrowing authority for the project development phase, which includes the environmental review and other technical feasibility studies.