Annual Report highlights WAPA’S service to customers, communities in American West

Fiscal Year 2017 Annual Report, Serving Communities, Saving Communities

Western Area Power Administration published its Fiscal Year 2017 Annual Report, Jan. 31. This year’s theme, “Serving Communities, Saving Communities,”​ highlights WAPA’s accomplishments for the year and demonstrates how WAPA serves communities across the West by focusing on availability, reliability, security and quality.

“Delivering power is about so much more than moving electrons. Our power and our services make a difference in communities we serve,” said Administrator and CEO Mark A. Gabriel in his introductory letter. “We are honored to deliver reliable and renewable power to communities who need it most.” Read more.

WAPA demonstrates powerful partnerships in FY 2016 Annual Report

Collaboration, innovation drive shared successPowerful Partnerships: Annual Report 2016 Western Area Power Administration

Western Area Power Administration published its Fiscal Year 2016 Annual Report, titled “Powerful Partnerships,” Dec. 30. The publication provides WAPA’s stand-alone operational data and illustrates how collaboration and innovation contributed to the organization’s ability to continue delivering its mission.

WAPA’s annual report is available on The Source, a website dedicated to displaying operational data and financial information in one convenient location. Read more.

Source: WAPA Media Relations, 1/6/17

Western outlines position, promise in FY 2015 Annual Report

Industry changes require new way of thinking, planning, operating

Western Area Power Administration published its Fiscal Year 2015 Annual Report today. Our Position, Our Promise provides both Western’s and the hydropower-generating agencies’ combined financial statements and also illustrates how the organization’s achievements during FY 2015 support its ability to continue delivering its mission.

“Providing clean, renewable, reliable and affordable hydropower, transmission and related services is our mission; it is our promise to customers,” said Western Administrator and CEO Mark A. Gabriel. “As our position evolves to meet the changing industry around us, we remain true to our promises.” Read more.

Western needs customer help to update website

Communication with customers is the key to productive business relationships, and the Energy Services website is how we maintain that dialogue. So we are excited to be a part of the project to redesign Western’s agency-wide website, because it gives us the opportunity to ask you what kind of changes you would like to see.

To ensure that the new design meets your needs, we are asking you, our customers, to weigh in with your ideas and experiences. When you visit any page on the Energy Services website, you will notice a line at the top of the page, “Help us re-design this page. Click here to assist.” Follow that link to complete a short questionnaire about your use of the website.

Energy Services visitors can help out by paying particular attention to question 7. This is where you can offer specific suggestions about the website. Don’t pull any punches—let us know what works for you, what doesn’t, what you would like to see more of and what leaves you scratching your head.

If you really want to make a difference in the direction of the website redesign, fill out the form on question 8. We will contact you to schedule a short user testing session, where we share our screen with you. You will be asked to locate content within the site, talk about your experience navigating through it and offer suggestions on improving your experience. The whole process should take about 30 minutes or less, and you would be making a great contribution to Energy Services and your fellow customers. You may also contact the Energy Service Bulletin editor if you are interested in participating in user testing.

Maintaining a website for a rapidly changing and highly technical industry like the utility industry requires constant vigilance and ongoing communication. We appreciate your input on our website content, now and in the future.

Western’s journey to powering the energy frontier

AR-14MFY 2014 Annual Report highlights first year toward future state

Western Area Power Administration has published its Fiscal Year 2014 Annual Report, titled Powering the Energy Frontier. The report provides the organization’s and hydropower-generating agencies’ combined financial statements and also illustrates how the achievements and contributions over the year helped move Western toward its desired future state. Read more.

Join the crowd at Utility Energy Forum

May 14-16
Tahoe City, Calif.

Judging from this year’s high registration numbers, the 34th Utility Energy ForumRedirecting to a non-government site is going to be a great place to meet and network with your colleagues from other western utilities and trade allies. 

Attendees at the 2013 Utility Energy Forum listen to a five-minute presentation during the Utility Program Stand-Up Challenge and Ice Cream Social. (Photo by RLMartin)
Attendees at the 2013 Utility Energy Forum listen to a five-minute presentation during the Utility Program Stand-Up Challenge and Ice Cream Social. (Photo by RLMartin)

Utility professionals in marketing, planning, energy services and customer service will gather at Granlibakken Conference Center May 14-16, to explore strategies for creating successful load management programs.

Several Western customers are not only attending, they are also sponsoring the event. You will have the opportunity to learn how Riverside Public Utility, Roseville Electric, Sacramento Municipal Utility and others are leveraging consumer interest in energy efficiency and renewable energy to respond to our rapidly changing industry. Exhibitors from energy services and technology companies will introduce you to products and programs that can help your utility achieve its energy management goals.

The agenda is set up to examine how legislation and policy, customer demands and expectations and technology advancements affect utility programs and operations. Western Administrator Mark Gabriel will deliver the opening keynote address. Speakers from government facilities and agencies, energy consulting firms, universities, businesses and nonprofit groups will provide insights from their unique perspectives.

Low-key, informal networking opportunities set the forum apart from other industry events, and there are plenty on offer. In addition to leisurely snack breaks and meals, attendees can network around the campfire or learn about utility-sponsored programs, speed-dating style—with ice cream. Cement new professional relationships at the ever-popular “Any Port in a Storm” port wine tasting, with live music.

The registration fee of $795 for utility and government professionals covers two nights of standard lodging, all meals and receptions. Upgrades are available if you want to bring a friend and stay an extra day to enjoy springtime in beautiful Lake Tahoe.

The Utility Energy Forum is an excellent investment in professional development for utility program managers. The things you learn, the people you meet and the ideas you hatch will pay off all year around.

Workshop, tools help Kansas utilities discover value of IRPs

Editor’s note: This story originally appeared in the May 2012 Energy Services Bulletin.

Integrated resource planning (IRP) is not easy, but figuring out what form the plan should take to satisfy Energy Planning and Management Program (EPAMP) requirements shouldn’t be the hardest part. Western teamed up with the Kansas Municipal Energy Agency (KMEA) recently to teach Kansas municipal utilities how to put together an IRP that meets Federal regulations and—just as important—helps them make their operations more efficient and reliable.

New experience
Rocky Mountain (RM) Regional Energy Services Representative Bob Langenberger presented a series of workshops to employees from 25 municipal utilities and cooperatives in Kansas. “Because most KMEA members got their allocation around the same time, their five-year plans were due within a six-month window,” Langenberger explained. “So the workshops were very well attended.”

Another reason for the heavy attendance is the recent retirement of a KMEA employee who provided extensive support for members’ planning processes in 2007. Many KMEA utilities found themselves developing their plans from scratch for the first time, and needed guidance. “Doing the plan entirely on our own, without the backup we’ve had from KMEA in the past, was new to us,” admitted Scott Nuzum, the power plant manager for Osborne, Kan  

Searching for an example of an IRP format, Rod Blake, who operates the Goodland power plant, came across an IRP from a neighboring town that looked like a free-form essay. “I was dreading it,” he recalled.

Langenberger noted that those improvised IRPs were a lot of work for the utilities that did them, but the plans still didn’t have all the required elements. What customers needed, he realized, was a template they could use as a starting point. “If utilities are going to get the full benefit of the planning process, they need to be able to focus on the content of their IRPs instead of worrying about the format,” noted Langenberger.

“When Western told us that templates would be available, I said, ‘Bring it!'” Blake declared.

Simplifying the process
Borrowing a summary-focused template some other Western regional offices were using, Langenberger expanded the format to capture the requirements of the five-year plan. In addition to developing a template for the IRP, he created one for the small customer plan (SCP). Customers may file this IRP alternative plan if they have a total annual sales or use of 25 gigawatt-hours or less, averaged over the previous five years. The SCP helps utilities that don’t belong to a joint action agency or get their power supply from a generation and transmission cooperative. These small, independent power providers often have limited economic and staff resources to dedicate to integrated resource planning.

Nuzum confirmed that the plan offers a valuable alternative for small utilities. After he attended the workshop, Osborne submitted its SCP, meeting all the Federal requirements. “The small customer template really helped out,” he said. “All we had to do was fill in the blanks.”

Western also has a template for the minimum investment report (MIR), another IRP alternative. Where state, tribal or Federal mandates require a utility to invest in demand-side management or renewable energy, Western accepts the MIR in lieu of an IRP. Some Western customers may use the MIR now that Colorado and Kansas have expanded their renewable energy standards to apply to certain public power providers.

In Colorado, electric cooperatives and municipal utilities serving more than 40,000 consumers are now required to get 10 percent of their energy from renewables by 2020. Rural electric cooperatives in Kansas must get 20 percent of their peak capacity from renewable energy by 2020. “If our customers are complying with state statutes, they are complying with IRP requirements,” said Langenberger.

“We’ve transitioned four customers to the MIR, and three more will be eligible when it’s time to file their IRPs,” he added. “The important thing is that both types of report make the utility look at the measures it can take to use its resources most efficiently.”

Taking the show on the road
Designing the templates turned out to be only half the battle. After completing the tools last fall, Langenberger and KMEA began to promote them to KMEA members. The feedback from utilities—and a couple of IRPs Western received in January—made it clear that customers needed more help to work through the process.

Beloit, Colby and Osage City agreed to host workshops in February, and invitations went out. The meeting attracted representatives from all of Western’s municipal customers in Kansas who have IRPs due this year. “If you are doing your own IRP, then you really need to go through the training,” Nuzum stated.

The workshop gave our Kansas customer the opportunity to ask a Western representative in person that most pressing question: “What do I need to have in my report to comply?”

“Now we can tell them, ‘If you’ve put something in every box in the report, it will meet the requirement,'” Langenberger said, adding that he, too, benefited from the face-to-face meeting. “It was a chance to offer suggestions and talk about issues specific to these customers,” he noted.

The attendees also enjoyed getting the chance to meet and talk with a Western representative. Mike Gilliland, Osage City utility director, said Langenberger was very knowledgeable about IRPs. “You can tell the difference between someone who is giving a rehearsed talk, and someone who really understands the subject. Bob understands.”

“It was good to have Bob there to highlight some areas we didn’t think about,” Blake concurred.

The wages of training
While planning is nothing new to utilities—”Five years is a pretty short time span in this business,” Nuzum pointed out—putting their efforts down on paper seemed daunting. But now that the Kansas municipalities have a better understanding of how the IRP process works, Langanberger predicts that they will take more ownership of their plans going forward.

Blake signaled that Goodland intends to do exactly that. “We were adamant that if we were going to the trouble of doing a plan, it will have attainable goals, and we will follow it,” he said. “Let’s get some use out of it.”

Simplifying the job of submitting the plan is already benefiting both our customers’ and our own operations. “Anyone who has the job of doing our IRP in the future is going to have an easier time of it,” said Blake. He added that even though Goodland submitted its IRP before the training, the workshop was well worth his time. “I wish I had been able to take the training first,” he said.

On Western’s side, Langenberger said he is now able to review a report in an hour and respond to customers with recommendations in about two hours. “Process improvement is good for everyone,” he admitted.

Your IRP may be years away, but it never hurts to learn a little more about planning. Start by familiarizing yourself with the templates for the IRP, small customer plan or minimum investment report. Check out Western’s online IRP compliance training, a step-by-step guide through EPAMP requirements. And, as always, feel free to contact your Energy Services representative.

Scholarships available to Wind/Solar Interconnection Workshop

Don’t let a tight travel budget keep you from attending the Distributed Wind/Solar Interconnection Workshop Jan. 19 to 21, 2011. A limited number of $500.00 travel scholarships are available to utility representatives who want to learn how to analyze the impacts of these variable resources on utility distribution networks.

The Utility Wind Integration Group (UWIG) is presenting this workshop at Western’s Electric Power Training Center in Golden, Colo.  The agenda is highlighting UWIG’s online DG Evaluation Toolbox, which enables engineers to analyze the impacts of these types of variable generation on utility distribution networks.  Participants will also be able to tour the Electric Power Training Center and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory’s National Wind Technology Center.

Registration for the workshop is limited to 30, and scholarships are offered on a first come, first served basis.  To secure a scholarship, contact Randy Manion, Western Area Power Administration, at 720-962-7423. Learn more about the agenda, accommodations and registration.

UWIG is sponsoring this workshop in partnership with Western, American Public Power Association, Wind Powering America, National Rural Electric Cooperative Association, U.S. Department of Energy Wind Technologies Program, American Wind Energy Association and Solar Electric Power Association.

Get your ‘green tags’ from Western today

Western’s Upper Great Plains region (UGPR) is offering renewable energy certificates (RECs) on a first-come, first-served basis to Federal and non-Federal Western customers.

The RECs, from facilities in North and South Dakota, are an attribute-only product from a wind energy purchase Western completed to supplement reduced hydropower generation from the recent drought. UGPR currently has approximately 273,000 calendar-year-2010 RECs and anticipates an additional 600,000 RECs through calendar year 2012.

For more about Western’s RECs sale, please contact Mr. Pete Kinney at 605-882-7567 or Mr. Mark Messerli at 605-882-7564.

Free lunchtime webinars for utilities begin November 16

Webinar Series Will Help Utilities Save Money & Better Serve Their Customers

Today Clean Energy Ambassadors (CEA) announced its 2010-2011 Lunchtime Webinar Series.

“The webinars for this season will feature local utility managers who have found solutions to some vexing problems, from how to help low-income customers or those who speak only Spanish, to which kind of energy audit is most cost-effective in a given situation,” said Jill Cliburn, a public-power utility veteran who leads the Clean Energy Ambassadors program.

Webinars will be held from noon to 1 pm Central time (11 a.m. to noon Mountain) on the third Tuesday of each month, beginning in November. Presentations will last about a half-hour, followed by questions and answers to round out the hour. Because the Webinars are focused on needs of consumer-owned utilities primarily in the Midwest and Plains states, the discussion can be specific, candid, and informal.

Webinar 1: Low Cost/No Cost Energy Savers – Nov. 16, 2010
Help your customers reduce their bills using measures that are proven to give lots of bang for little bucks. Compare give-away programs, direct installs, and strategies to boost customer follow-through. Speakers from Springfield City Water Light and Power in Illinois and the City of Boulder, Colorado.

Webinar 2: Infrared Cameras – The Utility How and Why – Dec. 20, 2010
Learn how you can use an IR camera to detect and repair distribution system losses, inefficient or failing motors, heat loss from poor insulation, and more. You may even qualify for a free loaner camera and technical support from Western Area Power Administration and CEA.

Webinar 3: Utility Help for Non-English Speakers – Jan. 18, 2011
Find out how other utilities have learned to help Spanish-speaking customers and customers who speak even less common languages. We’ll make handouts available online, pertaining to billing questions and especially to energy efficiency.

Webinar 4: Which Energy Audit Strategy Suits Your Needs – Feb. 15, 2011
Western’s Energy Services Manager Ron Horstman shares experience with all kinds of energy audits, and Linn County (IA) REC’s Steve Carroll shares tips that have worked to ensure that costly on-site audits result in worthwhile energy investments, while customers who have simpler questions get simpler answers.

Webinar 5: Energy Efficiency Tips for Small Businesses – March 15, 2011
Energy Ambassador Jill Cliburn shares tips from the APPA Guide, Energy Matters for Small Business, which she authored. She will also share stories from the field about how some utilities have worked with civic and church groups to expand their reach.

Webinar 6: Schools – A Top Choice for Energy Savings and Outreach – April 19, 2011
Learn about your choices among the programs that are out there to help you help your schools. We’ll start with Iowa schools that have integrated wind energy education with utility support and with the student-centered Green Schools Alliance. Other resources will also be provided.

The Clean Energy Ambassadors website is the Website of the Month in the November Energy Services Bulletin. As most of the utilities in the audience for CEA are also Western energy customers, the webinars will frequently reference resources and best practices from both CEA and the Western program.

Register today for these free educational events!