Hydropower is America’s leading renewable energy resource. Of all the renewable power sources, it is the most reliable, efficient and economical. Western Area Power Administration markets and delivers about 10,000 megawatts of reliable, cost-based hydropower from power plants at 57 Federal hydropower plants and one coal-fired plant to rural electric cooperatives, municipalities, public utility districts, Federal and state agencies, Native American tribes and irrigation districts.

The main products WAPA offers to our customers are:

  • Power marketing
  • Transmission and ancillary services
  • Other services

Through our power marketing services, WAPA sells capacity—the demand of electricity, measured in kilowatts—and energy—the amount of electricity delivered over time, which is measured in kilowatt-hours. Products include:

Long-term, firm power and other long-term sales—Firm power is capacity and energy that WAPA guarantees to be available 24 hours a day. WAPA also sells contingent, or withdrawable capacity. Contingent capacity is sold to customers who agree that the capacity may be unavailable at times. The customer is responsible for replacing the capacity that is withdrawn or otherwise unavailable.

Non-firm energy and short-term sales—Non-firm energy is sold to utilities that prefer not to use an expensive fuel or to make expensive purchases from another seller. The customer pays only for the energy delivered, since it has the capacity to meet its load, if necessary.

Seasonal sales—Customers may purchase power generated or made available only during certain seasons of the year.

Purchase power—WAPA must buy power from other suppliers when we do not have enough Federal generation available (due to bad water conditions or operational constraints) to meet our contract commitments. Power may also be purchased to support short-term sales.

Transmission services allow other utilities to use WAPA’s transmission system to transmit non-Federal power. Services include:

  • Point-to-point transmission—Firm point-to-point transmission service is transmission service between points of receipt and delivery. Long-term, firm point-to-point is service for one year or more. Less than one year is considered short-term. Non-firm point-to-point service is provided on an as-available basis and can be interrupted.
  • Network integration transmission service—This service allows customers to dispatch their designated resources to loads (their customers) over WAPA’s system. Network customers using this service must obtain certain ancillary services from the control area operator or the transmission provider.

Ancillary services are services that support the transmission of capacity and energy from resources to loads while maintaining reliable system operation. Services include:

  • Scheduling, system control and dispatch services—Scheduling the amount of energy to be delivered, assigning load and ensuring operational security.
  • Reactive supply and voltage control from generation sources service—Maintaining correct voltage through adjustments to generator output.
  • Energy imbalance service—Providing energy correction for any hourly mismatch between a transmission customer’s energy supply and demand served.
  • Regulation and frequency response services—Following the moment-to-moment variations in the demand or supply in the control area.
  • Operating reserve – spinning reserve service—Providing immediate back-up service from a reserve unit to serve load in case of a system contingency.
  • Operating reserve – supplemental reserve service—Serving loads when a contingency exists; not available immediately to serve load but can be available within a short time.

Other WAPA services include assistance with long-range resource planning, portfolio diversification and system maintenance.

Energy Services —This technical assistance service helps long-term, firm power customers improve energy efficiency, use renewable energy and adopt new technologies to improve their competitive positions.

WAPA provides training and assistance to customers developing Integrated Resource Plans as required by the Energy Policy Act of 1992.

Other program services include publications, workshops, conferences, one-to-one assistance, equipment loans, technology and resource assessment studies, marketing studies, and other mechanisms to transfer information on energy efficiency and renewable energy options and programs to customers.

Renewable resources—WAPA’s Renewable Resource Program identifies customers who want renewable resources in their generation mix and provides guidance through technical and marketing assistance to allow customers to fully evaluate renewable resource options.

Through the bi-weekly Green Power and Market Research Newsletter, customers can learn about the availability of grants, renewable energy programs, legislation, marketing and other issues related to renewable resources.

Operation and maintenance services—Since reliability is essential to superior customer service, more than half of WAPA’s workforce is dedicated to keeping the system in good operating condition. Employees perform such duties as replacing wood poles, trimming trees, changing out insulators and repairing damage to equipment after severe weather.

Last modified on June 22nd, 2023