Photo: Reflection of sunrise captured in a truck side-view mirror. Reflection show side of truck right-hand side of the image and a steel lattice transmission tower on the left side of the image

Winners unveiled

By Teresa Waugh 

WAPA turns 45 on Dec. 21, operating today in a very different environment than when it was created as part of the new U.S. Department of Energy. 

In the 1970s, an era of watershed environmental and energy laws emerged to protect natural resources and conserve energy. Price hikes, fuels shortages and long lines at gas stations inspired a movement toward energy reform. 

In 1977, Congress founded WAPA as part of DOE. Its mission: Safely provide reliable, cost-based hydropower and transmission to our customers and the communities we serve. 

Over the next 45 years, WAPA would succeed in that mission, build innovative ways of doing business, streamline operations and take the lead in technologies that improve system reliability. 

Today, WAPA continues in that tradition. Yet, it faces compounding challenges such as historic drought, extreme temperatures, climate change, a global pandemic, supply chain issues, and cyber and physical security threats. All the while, WAPA, and the grid, must adapt to rapidly increasing energy demand.  

What remains steadfast is our mission. WAPA delivers affordable and reliable electricity to our customers, many of which are in rural, underserved areas that rely on low-cost hydropower to energize their communities. 

Now, as in the years before us, WAPA remains dedicated to working together with our customers, stakeholders and peers to find solutions to these demanding conditions. WAPA and our partners look ahead with vigor and with hope. Together, we can do great things. 

Photo contest 

As part of its 45th anniversary, WAPA held an employee photo contest. The theme of the 45th anniversary photo competition was the annual theme: Reflect, Recharge, Resolve.  

WAPA’s story, as told through the words and photos of employees, brings the 45th anniversary celebration to life. Beginning this month, the top 20 photos will be featured on WAPA social media channels, and the top 10 selected winners are being recognized in a WAPA-wide employee meeting and featured here.  


Photo: View looking down, from a worker point of view, through a steel lattice communication tower. The structure is triangular in shape. Red-brown earth can be seen far below the tower.
Civil Engineer Charles Garcia took this photo while standing at the top of a new 300-foot guyed communication tower, which he designed.


Photo: Beige sand dunes in the foreground stretch from horizon to horizon and reach back until the hit brown angular mountains. Wooden transmission structures enter the photo on the left-hand side of the image and stretch from the foreground to the background.
“These drifts don’t melt!” Project Manager Shawn Berkram commented on his image of the Parker-Blythe #2 line situated above the shifting sands of the Rice Valley Dunes of Southeastern California. The U.S. Army spent time training for the African campaign here prior to deploying to Africa in World War II, he explained. Hence, construction of the line in the 1960s included the U.S. Army sweeping the right-of-way for “munition remnants.” The line requires Maintenance to come out once or twice a year to maintain access and “phase-to-dune” clearance for the safety of recreationalists, he added.


Photo: Landscape view shows a orange and yellow sunrise behind a transmision tower in the mid-ground and silhouetted deciduous trees in the foreground flanking either side of the photo.
In late September 2022, Facilities Operations Specialist Jon Solum caught this idyllic scene near the Watertown Control Center in Watertown, SD. As he aptly put it: “Colorful. Rural. Corn. Wide open spaces.”


Photo: Large steel lattice structure located in the left of center of the image. Low hanging clouds above the canyon are in the background
Taken by Substation Electrician Brett Cordsen, this image shows fog rolling into Glen Canyon as seen from Glen Canyon Substation when his crew was re-gasketing a transformer in the substation. Page, AZ is in the background.


Photo: Pink and blue sunrise highlight low hanging clouds, switchyard is centered in the image. Access road in the foreground.
High Voltage Electrician Chris Bruce took this amazing sunrise shot on a “perfect, cool fall morning” near the 345-kilovolt transmission line structures at Ault Substation.

Photo: Transmission structure centered against a orange gradient sky. Sun shown direct center of the photo behind the steel lattice structure.
Desktop Support Specialist David Darmody snapped this image of a transmission structure near Bismarck, ND, in September.

Photo: Two workers centered in the photo while working on a steel lattice communication tower.
This picture, captured by Electronic Integrated Systems Mechanic Rick Peterson, shows craftsmen installing a new Nokia microwave link at the Glen Canyon Microwave Communications Site.


Photo: Shows rock outcropping in the foreground on the left, centered in the midground is a steel lattice structure against a medium blue sky.
GIS Analyst Ryan Riley took this image while out with Vegetation and Maintenance Fleet Program Manager Danny Borunda to review and map vegetation work done along the Ault – Craig and Terry Ranch Road – North Park transmission line corridor.


Photo: Workers standing in bucket trucks, working on a component centered in the image.
This photo by High Voltage Electrician Leader Foreman II Tony Lucero shows DSW electricians removing head on a live tank 345-kilovolt circuit breaker in preparation for a rebuild of the breaker.

Closed Circuit and the Office of Public Affairs appreciates your participation in making this year’s contest a success. Thank you for telling WAPA’s powerful story. 

Note: The author is WAPA’s chief public affairs officer. 

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Last modified on March 19th, 2024