Blog posts, 2011


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Lisa's blog posts from the second half of 2011 as posted originally on Western Area Power Administration's "Connections" blog at

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Blog posts, 2011

  1. 1. Blog Posts by Lisa MeimanWestern to hold opportunity session for Colorado’s small businessesWestern’s Small Business Program is leading a business opportunity session for Denver and ColoradoSprings small businesses Jan. 18, 2011 from 9 a.m. to noon at Western’s Corporate Services Office inLakewood, Colo.The session will develop connections between small businesses and Federal acquisition and programmanagers and will include breakout sessions, networking, familiarization with Western’s acquisitionprocess and opportunities for small businesses in fiscal year 2012.There is no cost to attend, and no reservations required. For more information, contact Cheryl Drake’s Small Business Program achieved great success in FY 2011. Western awarded 71 percent of itsappropriated funds to small businesses, nearly tripling the government-wide goal of 23 percent.Western also outpaced Department of Energy objectives for Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned, Women-Owned and Small Disadvantaged small businesses, among others.Human Resources recognized by DOE Secretary for hiring reformWestern’s Human Resources Office received The Secretary’s Appreciation Award for management andoperational excellence from Secretary of Energy Steven Chu at the Department of Energy Headquartersin Washington, D.C., Nov. 21, 2011.In Fiscal Year 2011, Western far surpassed DOE’s FY 2011 and FY 2012 benchmarks for hiring time andhiring veterans, disabled veterans and other people with disabilities.DOE’s new hire goals FY11 FY12 Western’s accomplishmentsTime from recruitment 100 days 80 days 78 daysto arrivalVeterans 21.4 percent N/A 31.7 percentDisabled veterans 6.6 percent N/A 14.2 percentOthers with disabilities 7 percent N/A 17.5 percentWestern completed 184 hiring actions in FY 2011, the fourth highest in DOE.For more information on the award, visit Western’s Newsroom.Line crew learns how to save lives with helicopterWestern’s Desert Southwest helicopter line maintenance crew conducted tower rescue training Oct. 18– 19, 2011 and again Nov. 3 to learn how to rescue an injured or endangered lineman on a tower usinghelicopter-assisted short haul procedures.
  2. 2. Short haul is relatively new technique for the U.S. that has been used for decades in Europe. Equipmentand people are carried to and from towers dangled under a helicopter by a 50- to 100-foot line.DSW is exploring how the technique could be used on their lines to improve safety, increase productivityand decrease the time and physical burden of climbing up and down several towers a day to conductroutine maintenance.The initial training took two days: one in the classroom and another on an out-of-service line nearPhoenix where linemen and pilots practiced saving “Rescue Randy,” the DSW maintenance dummy. TheNov. 3 hands-on training ensured the crew retained the knowledge they learned.“In a remote setting, if we were to have an emergency, the new rescue techniques affords us the abilityto perform a short-haul rescue and get the victim to urgent care a lot quicker and safely,” said ForemanII Richard “Bo” Mortensen.For more information, visit Western’s Newsroom.Bill to repeal TIP’s borrowing authority moves to full HouseHouse Resolution 2915, which proposes to repeal Western’s Transmission Infrastructure Program’s$3.25 billion borrowing authority from the U.S. Treasury, passed the House of RepresentativesCommittee of Natural Resources with no amendments Oct. 5, 2011 with a 26-17 party-line vote.While the three projects currently approved to use the borrowing authority – TransWest Expressdevelopment phase, Electrical District 5 - Palo Verde Hub and the Montana Alberta Tie Limited – wouldnot be impacted by the bill’s passage, no other projects would receive funding.“New transmission is urgently needed in the western United States. And yet, getting lines in the air hasbeen far too slow over the past few decades,” said Lauren Azar, senior advisor to U.S. Energy SecretarySteven Chu, in a written testimony to a Subcommittee on Water and Power hearing Sept. 22, 2011.“Western’s $3.25 billion of permanent, indefinite, borrowing authority is, therefore, a critical tool foraddressing two of the major energy challenges we now face in the West -- the need for additionaltransmission infrastructure and integration of renewables onto the grid.”The bill will now be considered in the full House.TIP’s borrowing authority constructs or upgrades transmission infrastructure within Western’s 15-stateservice area that has the reasonable expectation of facilitating renewable generation to customers andis in the public interest.One of TIP’s projects chosen for fast-track approvalThe Department of Energy announced Oct. 5, 2011 that seven transmission projects were chosen byPresident Obama’s administration for accelerated permitting and constructing by the newly formedRapid Response Team for Transmission, which brings together nine agencies to expedite and improvethe coordination of necessary Federal approvals for building transmission.One of the chosen projects, TransWest Express, is currently being funded partially by the Western’sTransmission Infrastructure Program’s borrowing authority. Western will provide $25 million, or 50percent, for the development phase to determine the technical feasibility of building the project.
  3. 3. “The RRTT selection highlights the TWE Project’s importance to the overall grid, its economic andenvironmental benefits, and its ability to create and sustain competitive, cost-effective energy forconsumers in California and other states,” said Bill Miller, president and CEO of TransWest Express LLC.The agencies included in the team are the White House Council on Environmental Quality, theDepartment of the Interior), the Department of Agriculture, the Department of Energy, the Departmentof Commerce, the Department of Defense, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Federal ElectricRegulatory Commission, and the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation.Boulder Canyon Project remarketing comment period extendedAfter receiving feedback from customers and Congress, Western extended the comment periodfor certain proposals related to the Boulder Canyon Project Post-2017 remarketing effort to Sept.1, 2011. The extension also postponed applying BCP’s Power Marketing Initiative andimplementing 30-year contracts until Dec. 31, 2011.“This extension provides additional time for on-going legislative activities, as well as additionalopportunity for interested parties, including Native American Tribes, to consult with Westernand comment on the proposals,” said Darrick Moe, Western’s Desert Southwest regionalmanager, at the Senate Subcommittee on Water and Power hearing on S. 201, S. 333, S. 334, S.419, S. 499, S. 519 and S. 808 May 19, 2011.Western published the Application of the Energy Planning and Management Program PowerMarketing Initiative to the Boulder Canyon Project notice in the Federal Register May 24, 2011,announcing the change and scheduling additional forums for feedback.The FRN proposes Western be responsible for remarketing the firm power from Hoover Dam asan internal administrative process.“This has the advantage of engaging in far more detailed discussions and negotiations than canbe addressed by Congress, but with the drawback of unaccountability to taxpayers andratepayers, potential lawsuits and re-igniting conflicts between the affected states,” saidCongressman Tom McClintock, House Water and Power Subcommittee chairman, at the HouseSubcommittee on Water and Power Oversight Hearing on “Protecting Federal HydropowerInvestments in the West: A Stakeholders Perspective” May 4, 2011 .Congress looks to amend Hoover ActIn the meantime, bills under debate in the House and Senate propose amending the HooverPower Plant Act of 1984 to allocate dam power past 2017.The bills would allocate power at cost-based rates for the project customers, with five percent setaside for new customers. It also proposes 50-year contracts to match up with the Lower ColoradoRiver Multi-Species Conservation Program, a 50-year non-Federal/Federal partnership designedto balance use of the water resource and compliance with the Endangered Species Act.The legislation mostly matches Western’s FRN with a few notable exceptions, including:
  4. 4. Different authority for remarketing 50-year contracts Omitting setting aside 30 megawatts for use as reserve if Western needs to balance power across its Desert Southwest projectsIf passed, the law would eliminate the need for Western’s action under the FRN.Glen Canyon Dam study to help develop long-term operation planThere are many competing needs in a river system for water. From farming irrigation andrecreational activities (like boating and fishing) to environmental protection and hydropowerproduction, these needs can be hard to prioritize and manage.To address operations on the Colorado River, the U.S. Department of Interior’s National ParkService and Bureau of Reclamation are developing a new Long-Term Experimental andManagement Plan for Glen Canyon Dam.As part of the development process, the agencies will co-lead a draft environmental impactstatement and public scoping process to evaluate operation alternatives and receive publiccomments, respectively.Impact on hydropower productionThe resulting plan could change hydropower generation output, which is marketed by Western’sColorado River Storage Project Management Center, and possibly implement a RecoveryImplementation Program for endangered fish species below Glen Canyon Dam.According to a notice of intent in the July 6 Federal Register, the comprehensive review of damoperations – the first since 1995 – “will provide a framework for adaptively managing GlenCanyon Dam over the next 15 to 20 years consistent with the [Grand Canyon Protection Act of1992] and other provisions of applicable Federal law.”“We need to make use of the latest science to develop and implement a structured, long-termmanagement plan for the Glen Canyon Dam that adheres to the Law of the River, respects theinterests of the tribal nations, and sustains the health of the Grand Canyon and the communitiesthat depend on its water, consistent with the Grand Canyon Protection Act,” said Secretary of theInterior Ken Salazar in a July 5, 2011 press release.Between the dam’s completion in 1963 and 1990, dam operations strove to maximizehydropower generation. However, increasing environmental concerns of dam operations ondownstream resources prompted the government to pass the GCPA, which directed DOI toconduct a study to minimize the impact of dam operations.
  5. 5. Following the study, a Record of Decision Oct. 9, 1996 from the Bureau implemented the currentModified Low Fluctuating Flow Alternative used today at the dam. In 1997, the Secretary ofInterior adopted operating criteria for Glen Canyon Dam (62 FR 9447).Shorter transmission scheduling will helpintegrate renewable energyOn July 12, 2011, Western switched its transmission scheduling from every hour to every halfhour.The change to intra-hour scheduling is expected to increase the grid and market’s ability torespond to supply and demand fluctuations, particularly with the influx of variable energyresources like wind and solar power. It will also allow for more flexible and efficient use ofavailable transmission.“The initiative provides renewable generators the ability to have their actual [generation] closerto the schedule, reducing their exposure to imbalance penalties,” said Mike McElhany, amember in a Transmission Business Unit in the Desert Southwest region. “It helps levels theplaying field and provides more flexibility to integrate renewable energy.”Shortening the time frame permits increased integration of those variable resources when they’reavailable and the ability to quickly ramp up alternate sources when they’re not without undulypenalizing renewable generators.“It helps limit additional costs faced by the renewable producer when their actual generation andscheduled generation do not align, reducing the cost of integrating renewable generation,” saidRon Moulton, Transmission Services Manager for DSW and Rocky Mountain region.Reclamation Extends Comment Period on Glen Canyon Dam Operations EISAfter receiving a number of requests, the Department of Interior’s Bureau of Reclamation and U.S. ParkService decided to extend the scoping period for a new Environmental Impact Statement related to theoperation of Glen Canyon Dam on the Colorado River from Dec. 30, 2011 to Jan. 31, 2012.During the scoping period, agencies determine what factors to consider in the EIS and gather commentsfrom the public to identify social, economic and environmental concerns and project alternatives toevaluate.The EIS, which is jointly led by Reclamation and the Park Service, involves adopting a Long-TermExperimental and Management Plan for the Operation of Glen Canyon Dam.
  6. 6. The plan, the first comprehensive review of dam operations in 15 years, will ensure that regulated flowson the Colorado River meet the goals of supplying hydroelectricity and water for communities,agriculture and industry; protecting endangered species; and lessening the impact on downstreamecosystems, including the Grand Canyon and Glen Canyon.Changes to current water flows will be evaluated as "alternatives" in the EIS.For more information on the EIS or how to submit a comment, visit the project’s website.