Posts tagged: Western Area Power Administration

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.

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 »

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.

Next Tribal webinar, May 29, highlights transmission issues

The Electric Reliability Council of Texas and the eight U.S. regional reliability organizations are expanding regional transmission planning activities and broadening stakeholder involvement to plan for East-West interconnections. Hear about the status of the organizations’ plans and evaluations of long-term regional transmission needs.

Register today for Regional Transmission Planning, fifth webinar in the free series, Turning Knowledge into Energy Projects. All webinars in the series are scheduled for 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Mountain Time.

Western and DOE’s Office of Indian Energy Policy and Programs and Tribal Energy Program have teamed up to present the webinars. Don’t miss these events if you are looking for ways to promote tribal energy sufficiency and foster economic development and employment on tribal lands through renewable energy and energy efficiency technologies. You will learn about marketing, transmission, financing, partnerships and much more.

ED5 project completes major milestone

The Transmission Infrastructure Program Electrical District 5 – Palo Verde Hub project in Arizona’s Pinal and Maricopa counties reached a major

ED5 project map

Completion of the 22-mile segment between ED5 and Test Track substations represents nearly half of the new and upgraded line construction needed to complete the project.

construction milestone recently with the completion of 22 miles of new 230-kilovolt transmission lines between ED-5 substation and Test Track substation.

The new segment of transmission line represents half of all new construction and line upgrades required for the project, which will increase transmission capacity to deliver renewable energy, primarily solar, to consumers in Arizona, southern Nevada and southern California.

Construction was completed three weeks ahead of schedule, saving Western and the project proponent money and keeping the project on track for early 2015 energization.

The next step in the project is to expand Test Track substation to accomodate the increased transmission capacity. At the same time, the other half of transmission line upgrades will continue through early 2014.

Mark Gabriel named new Western Administrator

Mark Gabriel photo

Mark Gabriel

DOE announced Mark Gabriel as Western’s new Administrator Apr. 3. Welcome to Western, Mark!

While the DOE announcement provides Mark’s curriculum vitae and relevant background, he gave Western employees a little more personal look shortly after the announcement.

In his first few months at Western, Mark says his top tasks will be to get a sense of the organization, get a solid handle on the critical issues we face and work to understand the intricacies of the place. “It is too early for me to set hard goals, and I have a lot to learn from the team at Western, our customers and our partners at DOE. It will be critical for me to develop an understanding and assessment on the financial situation focusing on the unique challenges faced by Western.” He added, “I will also actively reach out to the customers and staff. The relationship with people is how organizations succeed or fail.”

In addition to being an avid outdoorsman, Mark said, “One of my other hobbies is the history of our great electric industry—that is why I included so much of it in my book, Visions for a Sustainable Energy Future. It may sound corny, but I truly believe that it is a privilege and honor to keep this nation’s vital resource and critical infrastructure operating every day.”

On why he applied to be Western’s Administrator, Mark said, “Western’s mission of delivering clean and reliable power to customers while maintaining our nation’s critical infrastructure aligns perfectly with my beliefs and goals. Having worked in this wonderful business for more than 20 years on a number of critical projects and problems, the opportunity to work for an organization so critical to this nation’s economic vitality and health was too hard to pass up.”

If you could ask Mark one question as he approaches his new job, what would it be?

Wind generates awards

Western’s service area is in the heart of our Nation’s renewable energy potential. Nine of the 10 windiest states in the Nation are in our geographic footprint. So it makes sense for Western to partner with the Department of Energy’s Wind Powering America initiative to present awards to public-owned utilities and cooperatives for their leadership in promoting wind energy development.

On Feb. 22, East River Electric Cooperative in Madison, S.D., received the Wind Cooperative of the Year Award for generation and transmission cooperatives at the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association TechAdvantage Conference in New Orleans.

East River, a Western customer serving eastern South Dakota and western Minnesota, earned the award by creating a model for community-based, locally owned wind development that relied on South Dakota citizens rather than large equity investors.

Also, Western and DOE’s Wind Powering America initiative are currently accepting nominations for the 2013 Public Power Wind Award in partnership with the American Public Power Association.  Nominations are due March 25. See the news release for more information.

This is the eleventh year for the Public Power Wind Award and the twelfth for the Wind Cooperative of the Year Award. You can see the year-by-year progression on installed wind capacity in the United States in an animated map on Wind Powering America’s website.

EMF: How close is too close?

E.M.F. Three little letters that strike terror into many hearts, but why?

EMF testing

Donna Shay, a Colorado citizen, asked Western to conduct an electric and magnetic field reading at her cabin that sits just outside a 115-kilovolt transmission line’s right-of-way. EMF readings determined about 1 milliGauss of exposure near her front door.

Mostly, it’s because we don’t understand electric and magnetic fields, or EMF.

The truth is people come into contact with these fields every day. EMFs occur naturally, like the magnetic field caused by currents deep inside Earth’s molten core. Manmade fields are also created by common appliances and equipment we depend on every day, like talking on a cell phone or heating up lunch in a microwave.

At Western, our high-voltage transmission lines and substations give off EMF, which sometimes concerns landowners with lines over and near their property. To help allay concerns, Western’s electrical engineers will test landowners’ EMF exposures from our transmission lines on request. Read more »

Southline environmental analysis moves forward

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.

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.