The Upper Great Plains (UGP) region manages transmission facilities in Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Minnesota and Iowa, and markets power from the Pick-Sloan Missouri Basin Program-Eastern Division. UGP transmission facilities are integrated with the transmission facilities of Basin Electric Power Cooperative and Heartland Consumers Power District. UGP manages a balancing authority center in Watertown, S.D.
The City of East Grand Forks, Minn., the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and the North Dakota School for the Deaf are just some of the customers that rely on the Upper Great Plains Region for reliable hydropower in the Midwest. Whether the need is for lighting city streets or providing power to local businesses, our goal is to keep our cost-based rates and our customers’ rates competitive in the markets we serve.
The UGP region is one of four regions within Western Area Power Administration, a Federal power marketing agency. Western sells and delivers wholesale power and bulk wholesale transmission to local utilities. Your electric company gets the power it delivers to consumers from a variety of sources, including wholesale power providers such as Western, purchases from neighboring utilities and its own generation. Upper Great Plains employees work around the clock to keep bulk power moving through the interconnected transmission system so that electricity ultimately reaches your home or business.
The UGP region carries out Western’s mission in Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Iowa and Minnesota. Annually we sell almost 10 billion kilowatt hours of firm power generated from eight dams and power plants of the Pick-Sloan Missouri Basin Program-Eastern Division. This power can serve more than 2 million households. We deliver this hydropower through nearly 90 substations and across more than 8,000 miles of Federal power lines, which are connected with other regional transmission systems and groups.
To keep power moving through the system, we rely on our Operations office in Watertown, S.D., in which dispatchers determine where to deliver power based on demand in our six-state area. We also rely on maintenance crews to keep the power lines and equipment working properly.
In the UGP region, we sell and deliver firm hydropower to rural electric cooperatives, cities and towns, public utility districts, irrigation districts, state agencies and Native Americans. Although our Region covers Western’s largest geographic service territory-378,000 square miles of sweeping prairie and fertile farmland-we are committed to personally visiting customers at every opportunity. We recognize the importance of understanding our customer’s individual circumstances and valuing their business.
In addition to selling generation and maintaining the power system, we offer services tailored to specific customer needs. These include providing technical expertise on such topics as efficient lighting, residential heating and equipment loans to help customers plan for future power needs. Other services include ensuring customers meet national standards when building power lines and switchyards that interconnect with Western facilities.
To serve these customer needs, we work from 22 duty stations throughout the Region. We keep the power flowing while ensuring environmental protection, employee safety and system security; managing day-to-day administrative tasks; operating and maintaining the transmission system; and administering contracts and setting rates.
Eyeing the future
As the electric utility industry continues to experience restructuring and increased competition, we will keep building upon our products and services to respond to customers’ changing needs.
We continually look for ways to increase customer involvement while eliminating unnecessary requirements. Our customer service representatives go the extra mile to visit face-to-face with new customers. These customer service representatives, unique to our Region, inform customers about the services Western offers.
We also seek ways to more closely team with customers and the generating agencies to improve reliability and decrease costs. One example is partnerships with Basin Electric, East River power cooperatives and Northwest Iowa Power Cooperative, which allows each of us to share the use of communication facilities for system control.
Enhancing relationships with our customers and improving service will shape our future in the Upper Great Plains region. We look forward to building upon our existing relationships and creating new ones.