Environmental review and analysis of transmission line projects is an iterative process. A project is proposed; the proposal is reviewed; alternatives are developed; comments are solicited and considered; revisions are made. Then the process repeats.
The Southline Transmission Line Project provides a great example. The Bureau of Land Management New Mexico and Western are co-lead agencies preparing the environmental impact statement for the project. The BLM recently completed meetings with Federal, state and county agencies as part of the process of developing alternatives for the project.
These meetings were an opportunity for the agencies to review the preliminary alternative routes being considered by the BLM and Western for the project and identify concerns and issues with any of the alternative routes. Input from the agencies will be included in the final alternatives development report and keeps the environmental analysis moving forward on schedule.
The BLM and Western expect to complete a draft EIS later this year. That’s when the public will have a chance to review and comment on the draft EIS. Those comments will then be considered as the agencies develop a final EIS.
Have you ever wanted to know more about the National Environmental Policy Act, or NEPA, process and how Federal agencies analyze projects? Here’s a chart that shows the steps in the process. You can also learn more in the NEPA section of the Department of Energy’s website.
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.
In a spontaneous visit to Colorado Deputy Secretary of Energy Daniel Poneman made a quick stop by Western’s Corporate Services Office in Lakewood, Sept. 14, sandwiched between two other meetings in the area.
Opening with “I’m not really hear to talk; I’m here to answer any questions you have on your mind,” Poneman said in his video conference with several hundred Western employees. Read more »
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.
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.
Today, Energy Secretary Stephen Chu published on the Department of Energy blog about the PMA memo he released March 16. In it, he further describes what the memo is intended to do and the next steps Western will take in gathering stakeholder input.
“Earlier this year, I called on our Nation’s Power Marketing Administrations (PMAs) to help lead the 21st century transformation of our nation’s electricity sector to better protect our economic and national security. As this process gets underway, the Department of Energy will work in close collaboration with each PMA to solicit the critical on-the-ground input vital to achieving this goal in the best manner possible. I look forward to working with all interested parties in every PMA region to meet this shared objective,” said Secretary Chu.
Click to read the entire blog post.
Western Area Power Administration, the U.S. DOE Office of Indian Energy Policy and Programs, and the DOE Tribal Energy Program are offering a free, informative webinar and discussion May 30 on how utilities’ generation portfolios are changing, often faster than the grid infrastructure that supports it, and the challenges currently being faced to integrate new generation and demand (load) response technologies into a grid that was designed to operate a different way.
There is no charge to attend the webinar; however, you must register to participate.
Tribal utility managers and resource engineers will hear information on (1) key findings in the MIT Energy Initiative Report on the changes needed in the U.S. transmission grid to handle expected challenges such as the influx of electric cars and wind and solar generation and (2) the Western Grid Group’s Clean Energy Vision Project, which charts a sustained, orderly transition from the carbon intensive electricity system of today to a cleaner, smarter and healthier electricity system of the future.
The webinar is chaired by Jay Caspary, with Southwest Power Pool and on assignment to the DOE Office of Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability. The two speakers are Dr. Richard Schmalensee and Dr. Carl Linvill.
Dr. Schmalensee is the Director of the MIT Center for Energy and Environmental Policy Research at the MIT Sloan School of Management. Dr. Schmalensee was co-chair of the recent MIT Energy Initiative report on The Future of the Electric Grid. Dr. Linvill is Director of Integrated Energy Analysis and Planning with Aspen Environmental Group and a member of the Western Grid Group. He is a major contributor to the Clean Energy Vision Project.
For more information on this and the other tribal webinars, visit http://www.repartners.org/#tribeseries.
Western is teaming up with the Utility Wind Integration Group, American Public Power Association and the Department of Energy’s Wind and Water Power, Solar Energy Technologies and Tribal Energy programs to present the sixth annual Distributed Wind/Solar Interconnection Workshop, Feb. 22 to 24.
The workshop, taking place at Western’s Electric Power Training Center in Golden, Colo., provides a comprehensive overview of wind and solar integration studies.
Expert speakers will use case studies to answer questions about interconnecting wind and solar plants and other distributed generation applications to electric distribution systems. Participants will get an introduction to UWIG’s Internet-based tools for assessing a distributed wind project’s impact on the local distribution system.
Registration and $300 is required to attend the workshop in person. Those interested can also attend four online sessions for just $99.
Find out more at Western’s Newsroom or the event announcement.
Federal agencies interested in meeting their renewable energy goals and mandates, improving the environment and supporting national energy security are invited to join the 2012 renewable energy certificate (REC) solicitation being issued by Western.
Participating in this solicitation is easy: Complete and submit the Statement of Intent for Federal Agencies to Purchase Renewable Resources no later than April 20. Western is also offering a webinar to educate agencies and others on the program and submission process March 14 at 10 a.m. MST. Interested parties need to register.
For more information, visit Western’s Newsroom or the Renewable Resources for Federal Agencies website.