The Rocky Mountain (RM) region manages transmission facilities in Colorado, Kansas, Nebraska and Wyoming to market power from the Pick-Sloan Missouri Basin Program-Western Division and the Fryingpan-Arkansas Project (marketed together as Loveland Area Projects). RM’s transmission system is managed from an operations center at its office in Loveland, Colo., in coordination with Western’s Desert Southwest regional office.
The U.S. Air Force Academy, the city of Sidney, Neb., and the Wyoming Municipal Power Agency are among the customers that rely on the Rocky Mountain Region to help meet the electrical needs of communities in the West. Customers rely on Western to supply power and maintain the transmission system.
The Rocky Mountain Region is one of four regions within Western, a Federal power marketing administration. Western sells and delivers wholesale power generated at Federal dams to cities and towns, rural electric cooperatives, public utility and irrigation districts and Federal agencies. These customers have a priority (or preference) to receive Federal power. They also get power from a variety of sources, including wholesale power providers like Western, purchases and exchanges from neighboring utilities and their own generation. Rocky Mountain employees work around the clock to keep bulk power moving through the interconnected transmission system so that electricity ultimately reaches consumers.
The RM region serves preference customers in Colorado, Kansas, Nebraska and Wyomingwith hydroelectric power. We sell about 2.2 billion kilowatthours of power. This power is generated at more than 19 hydroelectric plants that are part of Fryingpan-Arkansas Project and the Pick-Sloan Missouri Basin Program-Western Division (sold as the Loveland Area Projects) and the Colorado River Storage Project. We sell power to utilities across 183 counties.
We reliably deliver Federal and non-Federal power through about 5,400 miles of transmission lines and 90 substations. The system includes the 200-MW Virginia Smith AC-DC-AC converter station near Sidney, Neb., that transfers power between the eastern and western power grids. Because reliability is essential to superior customer service, we dedicate more than half of our workforce to system maintenance. High-voltage line mechanics, electricians, heavy equipment operators and meter and relay mechanics keep the transmission system operating efficiently.
In the RM region, we are committed to serving our customers. For example, we often collaborate with other utilities on facility maintenance and system improvements. We also offer education and information to our customers as they develop and implement integrated resource plans. IRPs compare conventional and renewable energy alternatives, such as efficient lighting, to serve consumers’ electrical needs.
To respond to the changes in the electric utility industry and to better serve our customers, we keep pace with the latest technologies. Our upgraded dispatch center is one example. Features include an advanced power control system that monitors the transmission system; two high-resolution video map boards; a computer-based telephone system for more reliable communication and teleconferencing capabilities; and a new video security camera system at the dispatch facility.
As the restructured electric utility market unfolds, we continue to improve service to our customers. We have added products and services, such as power scheduling, to manage load requirements and control costs, and transmission rates specifically designed for wind generation.
Facing the future
We continually look for ways to more closely team with customers and the generating agencies to improve reliability and decrease costs. For example, we established a three-party agreement with the Bureau of Reclamation and Western States Power Corporation to help ensure adequate funding for system maintenance. WSPC is a nonprofit, customer-owned corporation that cost-shares some Pick-Sloan and Fry-Ark expenses. This agreement provides advanced funds for capital, operation and maintenance costs for either Western or Reclamation. For example, we financed a transformer replacement at the Estes Powerplant in northern Colorado with WSPC’s assistance. This agreement reduces the need for appropriations from Congress and ensures timely system maintenance.
As we continue to grow, we are open to opportunities to improve transmission system reliability and meet future energy needs. For example, as the security coordinator for the Rocky Mountain and Arizona, New Mexico and southern Nevada subregions of the Western Electricity Coordinating Council, we monitor and analyze the area’s transmission system.
We are committed to partnering with our customers, preserving our resources and improving reliability through creativity, leadership and sound business and engineering principles