California: Interested in how hydropower costs are calculated for the Central Valley?

The Bureau of Reclamation’s Mid-Pacific Region announced Jan. 9 that it will hold a public workshop on the assumptions, modeling and methodology for determining hydropower benefits of the ongoing Cost Allocation Study for the Central Valley Project.

The workshop will be held:

Friday, Jan. 18
11:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m.
Federal Building, 2800 Cottage Way
Cafeteria Conference Rooms C1001-C1002
Sacramento, CA  95825

If you’re interested in the methodology and model that will be used during the study, this meeting will be your opportunity to ask questions and provide feedback. You can also find out more about the Central Valley Project Cost Allocation Study on Reclamation’s website.

Drip-dry: Drought’s major impact on water uses

Have you noticed water evaporating overnight from your cup at your office? Have you been running a humidifier at home or noticed your plants are in need of more TLC than usual? Yes, it’s been dry in the West … extremely dry … critically dry.

U.S. map showing drough conditions

University of Nebraska-Lincoln's U.S. Drought Monitor

There has been a lot of talk in the news about the drought’s impact on farms and food, and what kind of snowfall it would take to relieve the drought.

At Western, since we use water from many of the large streams throughout the West, the drought impacts our regions, our communities and our ability to produce hydropower. In fact, our final hydro conditions report for the water year 2012 was less than stellar. Read more »

Substation to add reliability, better service to grid

South of Parker Dam near Parker, Ariz., sits the beginning phase of a new switchyard, just north of the  existing 161 kV tap.

With the lines shoo flied around the new site, construction began with grading the site, erecting the perimeter fence and placing the foundation for equipment and the new control building.

Completing this switchyard will convert the existing 161-kV tap to a more reliable configuration that will provide better service to both Western and its customers.  Using pre-payment funding the substation is expected to be completed and energized by December 2013.

T-line construction continues even in winter

When you think of Wyoming and Montana in the winter, you might think “cold”—cold enough that you wouldn’t want to be outdoors working on the construction of a transmission line. But that’s exactly what Western crews will be doing this winter.

Western contractor operating the hydraulic press, right, with another crew member as his assistant to perform dead-ending operations as part of Phase 1 of the Lovell-to-Yellowtail transmission line rebuild project.

Western contractor operating the hydraulic press, right, with another crew member as his assistant to perform dead-ending operations as part of Phase 1 of the Lovell-to-Yellowtail transmission line rebuild project.

Crews recently wrapped up rebuilding the Lovell-to Yellowtail No. 1 and No. 2 115-kilovolt transmission lines in the Big Horn Canyon National Recreation Area in Wyoming and Montana. They expect to begin reclamation of unneeded access roads soon. In Feb. 2013, they will begin rebuilding the sections of the lines north and south of the NRA.

The Lovell-to-Yellowtail transmission lines are located between Lovell, Wyo., and Yellowtail Dam, Mont., and help provide the reliable transmission of Yellowtail Dam’s generation.

You can see more photos of Phase 1 construction on Flickr.

Western’s website: Fresh style, same content

Two people have coffee under a menu boardMost of us have local restaurants that have become our favorite haunts where we would consider ourselves regulars; and when the owner changes up the menu, we notice! You can still order your favorite meal, but now you have to reacquaint yourself with the menu to find your favorite dish.

Well, if Western is a ‘regular-haunt’ kind of website for you, you might have noticed that the menu, as well as the home page, has changed.

Yes, all the navigation and pages are still there and available for our “regulars,” but we updated the presentation to make finding information a little easier. Western announced its home page change the first week of November and then made the switch on Nov. 23.

Read more »

High-flow experiment at Glen Canyon Dam to protect Grand Canyon

Not since 2008 has the Glen Canyon had a high-flow release of water, but on Monday Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar along with Assistant Secretary for Water and Science Anne Castle, National Park Service Director Jonathan B. Jarvis and Bureau of Reclamation Commissioner Mike Connor were at Glen Canyon to see it happen. Western staff was also present to witness the long-awaited event of the Glen Canyon Dam bypass tubes being opened to initiate the High Flow Experimental release. “The experiment went well thanks to the coordination efforts between DOI and Western,” said Acting Colorado River Storage Project Manger Darren Buck.

On Nov. 19 the Glen Canyon Dam bypass tubes were opened to initiate the High-Flow Experiment.

On Nov. 19 the Glen Canyon Dam bypass tubes were opened to initiate the High-Flow Experiment.

The experiment, scheduled through 2020, allows for more frequent HFE releases to happen when the right conditions exist. This will determine the effectiveness of multiple HFE releases in rebuilding and conserving sandbars, beaches and associated backwater habitats of the Grand Canyon that have been lost or depleted since the dam’s construction and operation.

For more information about the HFE, see the DOI news release or visit Reclamation’s website.

Also, check out our videos and photos of the event on YouTube and Flikr.

Western supports N.J. power restoration efforts

Linemen prepare for journey to N.J.

Lineman Joshua Bailey of the Cody, Wyo., maintenance office completes a pre-trip inspection on the 100-foot aerial manlift the morning of Nov. 1 before he and four other crewmates depart for Hoboken, N.J., to help with power restoration after Hurricane Sandy.

Western sent dozens of linemen, electricians, vehicles and supplies and two of its three Bell 407 helicopters to help repair storm damage to the electric grid in some of the hardest hit areas of New Jersey.

Along with its sister power marketing administrations Southwestern and Bonneville, Western has responded to calls for assistance from the Department of Energy to get the Northeast powered as quickly as possible.

“Our hearts go out to all those who have been affected by this devastating storm,” said Anita Decker, Western Acting Administrator.  “The President has directed the Department of Energy, Western and the other power marketing administrations to work with the Northeast Utilities and do all we can to accelerate power restoration to those affected by Hurricane Sandy. Western is proud to be part of this effort to help restore power as quickly and safely as possible.”

Western is providing daily updates and photos on its support to Hurricane Sandy at its website and Flickr account.

Western reaches out to University of Denver engineering graduate students

Western employee presents to University of Denver students

James Hirning, a Rocky Mountain transmission planner, talks about Western and transmission planning to engineering graduate students at the University of Denver Nov. 1.

Rocky Mountain transmission planner Jim Hirning talks with University of Denver engineering graduate students Nov. 1 about transmission planning in Western and the intricacies that go into devising how to keep the electric grid reliable in the coming decades. Transmission planning is an area of potential job growth for Western as new generation, particularly renewable, comes online and demand grows in the West. As of last year, Western had more than 11,000 megawatts of renewable energy in its interconnection queues and not enough people, or transmission, to work through the requests.

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 »