In an effort to determine how best to improve operations and transmission services process and activities, Western’s Senior Management Team decided to take a look at the agency’s operations in Summer 2011.
During the last year, Miracorp–an independent consultant–evaluated Western’s current power system operations and provide alternatives to consider as the agency strives to operate efficiently and effectively in a dynamically changing environment.
Miracorp released the Operations Study Report Aug. 2,(pdf) without input or comment from Western.
Western Area Power Administration conducted a Grid Reliability—Impacts to Tribal Renewable Projects webinar in partnership with the U.S. DOE Office of Indian Energy Policy and Programs and DOE Tribal Energy Program July 25.
About 55 Tribal members and interested parties participated in the webinar with 112 registering for the event. Western’s Reliability Compliance Program Manager was the featured speaker, covering topics such as key definitions, reliability organizations, oversight process, standards and enforcement among other reliability considerations.
Western’s Renewable Resource Program Manager Randy Manion shared, “This webinar was the eighth in the Fiscal Year 2012 Tribal Webinar series coordinated by Western. Laurent Weber, Western’s Reliability Compliance Program manager, did a masterful job explaining complex issues.”
The webinar series is giving Western transmission and power marketing experts a platform to share their incredible knowledge and expertise with Tribal representatives, renewable energy developers and other important stakeholders.
On July 31, the Bureau of Reclamation announced the delay of a project to relocate Western’s high-voltage transmission lines near Yellowtail Dam in Montana from August to October because of increased environmental concerns.
“I applaud our hydropower partners at Western for their sensitivity to the potential ramifications of the outage associated with the relocation project,” said Dan Jewell, Area Manager for Reclamation’s Montana Area Office. “While these types of maintenance events are never risk-free, delaying the work until later in the year will help reduce that risk.”
The current location of the lines puts them at risk for the dangerous ice storms that occur in the area over winter, prompting a joint effort between Reclamation and Western to move the lines.
The relocation is scheduled to take about two weeks, and the outage requires Reclamation to bypass the water turbines. With the unusually warm summer and fall, agencies and environmentalists were concerned about the impact of not using the colder water at deeper water levels to power the turbines in August. Alternatives to move the water, including the holo-jets and spillways, could increase nitrogen or water temperature, potentially harming fish.
According to Friends of the Bighorn River blog, “With lake water temperatures already well into the 70′s, a slight mistake, miscalculation or unplanned natural or man-made event could have long lasting, devastating effects on the river where fish are already highly stressed from anglers, low flows, gas bubble trauma, irrigation return, warm water and habitat loss.”
The delay is thought to be a fitting compromise to ensure reliable electricity from Yellowtail Dam this winter and protection of the environment.
Western Area Power Administration is issuing a request for proposals for renewable energy certificates, or RECs, for five Federal agencies:
- U.S. Department of Energy, Oak Ridge National Laboratory
- U.S. Department of Energy, Los Alamos National Laboratory
- U.S. Department of Energy, National Nuclear Security Administration, Sandia National Laboratories
- U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Superfund Program
- U.S. Department of Energy, National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Golden Field Office
RECs represent the environmental attributes of energy generated by renewable resources such as solar, wind, biomass or landfill gas, physically delivered into the electric grid.
For more information on how to submit an RFP or on the program, see the full press release.
In a job where high-risk tasks are a daily business, training is vital. Especially when we talk rescue training. On an annual basis, maintenance crews at Western are required to perform fall protection training to be a “qualified” climber. In this photo, Ron Miller, Rocky Mountain Region lineman performs a simulated poletop rescue during training.
Western and DOE are hosting a webinar to kick off the public involvement and stakeholder process in our “Defining the Future” Initiative. The goal of the initiative is to achieve a more secure and sustainable electric sector in the United States.
Already Western has publicized it’s progress toward the objectives in Secretary of Energy Stephen Chu’s memo to the power marketing administrations.
Now during the webinar, participants can see the workshop and listening session formats, directions on how to access read-ahead material, a preview of information that will be presented during the workshops and a summary of the process for stakeholder participation during workshops and listening sessions.
So join us for:
Pre-workshop Webinar: “Defining the Future” Initiative
Thursday, July 12, 2012 at 1 p.m. (EDT)
Register for the webinar online
As part of the Glen Canyon Dam Adaptive Management Program, the seven Basin States (Arizona, California, Colorado, New Mexico, Nevada, Utah and Wyoming) are developing an alternative for the Long Term Experimental and Management Plan Environmental Impact Statement (LTEMP EIS). The EIS examines how to operate Glen Canyon Dam to protect downstream resources and maintain water deliveries and power generation. Western is supporting the Basin States by facilitating participation of scientists who are experts in key resource areas, by collecting scientific information and drafting key policy and scientific information in a format that will serve as an alternative for the LTEMP EIS.
The Resource-Targeted, Condition-Dependent Strategy described in the alternative focuses on three key resources:
- Recovering the endangered humpback chub
- Improving the trout fishery at Lee’s Ferry
- Improving or protecting key sediment-based resources (camping beaches, backwater habitat and archaeological site protection) in the Grand Canyon
The Basin States briefed officials of the Department of Interior and delivered this alternative to the co-lead agencies, Bureau of Reclamation and the National Park Service on July 2. Western, the Colorado River Energy Distributors Association and the Basin States hope that this alternative will be selected as the preferred alternative and ultimately be implemented.
NaturEner reported it completed installation of 11 turbines as of July 3 on the southwest part of the Rim Rock Wind Farm, Mont.
Several stakeholders, including Western representatives, toured the Rim Rock site the last week of June to see the construction progress. The wind farm will be interconnected through the Montana-Alberta Tie Limited transmission line project.
You can see additional photos and read more about the project’s construction and environmental progress on NaturEner’s website.
Over the last week, the Federal government took multiple steps to bring energy advancements to tribal lands.
- Department of Interior Secretary Salazar approved a 350-megawatt solar energy project on the Moapa River Indian Reservation in Nevada on July 21. This project is the first-ever of its kind, being the only utility-scale development on tribal lands. The project supports President Obama’s all-of-the-above approach to energy and builds on the Administration’s efforts to advance renewable energy on America’s public lands. This innovative project is another step toward developing renewable energy resources on tribal lands with the hope of strengthening Native American economies.
- The Department of Energy announced Strategic Technical Assistance Response Team selections for six tribes in the lower 48 states to receive on-the-ground technical support for community-based energy efficiency and renewable energy projects. The START program provides both tribal communities and Alaska native villages with technical assistance to accelerate clean energy project development, advance energy self-sufficiency and create jobs.
- DOE recently launched an online resource library focused on energy topics relevant to tribal communities. The library lists links to more than 85 publications, websites and other resources about energy project development and financing in Indian Country. Topics include project checklists, technology, tribal case studies and strategic energy planning.
- Lastly, DOE announced the appointment of three additional tribal members for its Indian Country Energy and Infrastructure Working Group. The new tribal team members are the Ho-Chunk Nation of Wisconsin, Crow Tribe of Montana and Tlingit and Haida Tribes of Alaska. Established in 2011, the group is made up of geographically diverse Native American energy leaders who discuss issues affecting tribal energy development. Members have broken ground by meeting with key energy sector players to share best practices and discuss emerging markets and opportunities for innovative partnerships.
Western recently published new webpages to publicize progress toward the objectives in Secretary of Energy Stephen Chu’s March 16 memo to the power marketing administrations.
The webpages advertise public involvement opportunities, including stakeholder meetings, and show how Western is progressing toward meeting the memo’s objectives.
While Western calls the section “Defining the future,” the agency remains committed to providing reliable, cost-based electric service to its preference power customers. The objectives in the PMA memo only call for Western’s leadership in “transforming our electric system to the 21st century to ensure our nation remains competitive in a global economy,” as Secretary Chu stated in his May 30 blog post.
“[Western] has an enormous opportunity to assume a leadership role in helping prevent future blackouts by making the organizational and operational changes necessary to enhance overall system operations and planning,” he added.
Be sure to check out the pages regularly as they will be frequently updated with more information through the end of the year.