Blog ending–Visit us on Flickr, YouTube

At Western we’re always looking for ways to increase dialogue with our customers and the public. In 2012, we launched a YouTube channel and Flickr account and have found them to be more convenient ways to share our story with you. So follow us on those sites, where you can see Western in action.

What you’ll find:

This will be our last post to Western’s Connections blog. The site will remain available as an archive. We hope to see you on our website, Flickr and YouTube.

Colorado partnership garners $50K for successful landscape management

WCLC group photo

Group of volunteers learning about the ecosystem in Western Colorado. (Photo courtesy of the Western Colorado Landscape Collaborative)

Working together, federal and state agencies, local governments, environmental groups, public stakeholders and local utilities are improving wildlife habitats in Western Colorado’s natural spaces while reducing fire danger that threatens the landscapes and power lines.

 Western is one of the partners of the Western Colorado Landscape Collaborative, which garnered the prestigious 2013 Colorado Collaboration Award and a $50,000 prize to further the non-profit’s efforts.

“The ecosystems in Western Colorado are under attack from disease, drought and wildfires, and those are higher-level problems than just one entity can deal with,” said Western’s Rocky Mountain Special Programs Manager Ron Turley. “[The collaborative partnership] is a sign of the times in natural resources management. Natural resource managers realize that issues like these goes beyond their jurisdictions and require partnerships with other government entities and the public. A broader landscape perspective and collaborative effort was the only way to get it done.”

The Colorado Collaboration Award is a prize offered each year by a group of foundations and corporate funders to an outstanding nonprofit collaboration. The award will be officially presented at Colorado Nonprofit Association’s Fall Conference & Exhibition in Denver Oct. 7.

“We’re proud and excited to have been selected as the winner of the Colorado Collaboration Award,” said Pam Motley, Director of Uncompahgre/Com, which manages the Western Colorado Landscape Collaborative. “This prize will help us continue major initiatives such as the Escalante Forest Restoration Project.”

Read more on Western’s website.

Course adapted to meet DOE’s Wind Program

Western’s Electric Power Training Center adapts course to meet DOE Wind Energy Program. The Aug. 26-29 Fundamentals of Power Systems Operations course will give participants an opportunity to receive hands-on experience in how the Bulk Electric System operates and challenges variable generation poses to system operators. The course will also show how the EPTC can play an active role in educating stakeholders on how to best manage increasing amounts of variable generation. The course will include a tour to the Ault substation and Western’s Rocky Mountain Control Center in Loveland, Colo.

TransWest Express, Western leadership tour site in Wyoming

Sitevisit_Aug0613_a

Attorney John Kral, forefront, Administrator Mark Gabriel and Attorney John Bremer listen to TransWest Express CEO Bill Miller explain the siting for the northern terminal of the TWE Project (Photo by: Bill Boyd, TransWest Chief Operating Officer)

TransWest Express LLC Chief Executive Officer Bill Miller took a few Western employees to visit the site of the northern terminal for the proposed TransWest Express Transmission Project near Sinclair, Wyo.,  Aug. 6. The proposed TWE Project would create a path to bring more renewable energy produced in Wyoming to the market in California, Nevada and Arizona.

Western’s Transmission Infrastructure Program is providing up to $25 million to complete the development phase of the TWE Project. Western will decide whether to participate in the construction phase of the project after the environmental analysis is complete. The team also discussed a wind farm proposed in the area by affiliate company Power Company of Wyoming LLC.

Western Administrator Keynotes Rocky Mountain Utility Efficiency Exchange

Western Administrator Mark Gabriel

Western Administrator Mark Gabriel

Western Area Power Administration Administrator Mark Gabriel and Colorado Energy Office Director Jeff Ackermann will keynote the 7th Annual Rocky Mountain Utility Efficiency Exchange Oct 9-11, 2013, in Aspen, CO.  More than 80 presenters are expected to join them for this year’s event. The general, breakout and poster sessions will explore case study best practices and lessons learned from those who develop, implement and evaluate utility customer programs dealing with energy and water efficiency, renewable energy, demand response and key account customer management.

The Rocky Mountain Exchange is a networking and professional development forum for about 100 utility and
government organization professionals as well as trade allies who provide products and services to support utility customer programs. The conference provides general and breakout sessions as well as networking opportunities.

Lovell-to-Yellowtail project checks halfway point

Lovell-to-Yellowtail Phase II

A contractor works on an H-frame structure along the Lovell-to-Yellowtail No. 1 transmission line, or LV-YT No. 1, June 26, 2013. (Photo by Ryan Sharp)

Construction work on the two Lovell-to-Yellowtail transmission lines, which run between Lovell, Wyo., and Yellowtail Dam, Mont., continues to progress according to schedule.

The dual 94-mile, 115-kilovolt lines that carry power from Yellowtail Dam in Montana are undergoing a badly needed rebuild as many of their components can trace their origins to their construction in 1956 and 1966 by the Bureau of Reclamation.  

“Many of the existing poles are in immediate need of replacement,” said Rocky Mountain Project Manager Travis Anderson.

The project is in the middle of the second phase, which includes rebuilding about 16 miles of each line that run both north and south of the National Park Service Big Horn National Recreation Area and Crow Reservation. Read more »

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.