Closed Circuit

​By Philip Reed 

The stories Closed Circuit told in 2018 provided a vast overview of WAPA’s services, customers and employees

Throughout the year we featured many diverse aspects of and perspectives on WAPA’s operations and mission, and looking back I am proud of the attention we were able to bring to some of WAPA’s most impressive moments and achievements.

Choosing the 10 best stories wasn’t easy, and there certainly wasn’t room for all of the great stories we were privileged to tell. As the Closed Circuit editor, I do hope that you will enjoy this look back at the year that was.

10: SN biologists’ innovation is for the birds – September
Maxwell Substation in Colusa County, California, struggled with European starlings roosting in its capacitor banks. Their droppings compromised the stability and reliability of the substation, posed a health hazard and caused up to eight power outages per year. The solution they eventually discovered eliminated bird-related outages and the $1 million per day impact of unplanned outages has been avoided entirely.

9: Junior WAPA employees learn about energy – June
More than 50 children from ages 3 through 17 attended Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day at Headquarters in Lakewood, Colorado, WAPA’s largest turnout for an event of this kind. The “Junior WAPA Employees” spent the day learning about hydropower, sustainability and more. They also enjoyed a WAPA-wide scavenger hunt, tower-building exercises and mock media interviews.

8: Preparation through calculated catastrophe – January
On Nov. 15 and 16, 2017, WAPA employees participated in GridEx IV, an operational exercise designed to help organizations prepare for realistic threats facing the industry. The participants responded to a chain of escalating crises ranging from malware infestations to a physical attack on Headquarters to a tense and fragile hostage situation. Simulated news reports, social media posts and calls allowed participants to become familiar with the overwhelming nature of an actual catastrophe.

7: New ESF-12 makes debut in Guam after typhoon – November
Typhoon Mangkhut struck Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands Sept. 10 as a Category 2 storm with 105 mph winds. The next day, Power System Construction and Maintenance Advisor Will Schnyer deployed for two weeks as his first assignment as an ESF-12 responder. He previously served as incident commander in St. Thomas after the devastation of Hurricane Irma.

6: Employees deploy for volcano relief – July
Kilauea, the most active of the five volcanoes that constitute the island of Hawaii, erupted in early May, discharging more than 30 billion gallons of lava and destroying around 700 homes in the path of the flow. Three employees deployed for relief efforts, two of them directly on “The Big Island,” to assist the Federal Emergency Management Agency in relief and restoration efforts. A third deployed two weeks later to monitor the situation from California.

5: I2T Summit shines light on culture of innovation – August
WAPA held its Inclusion, Innovation and Technology Summit July 17 in Loveland, Colorado, with a theme of “Creating a Culture of Innovation.” The focus was encouraging and sustaining innovation within the organization. Distinguished guests included Department of Energy Assistant Secretary for the Office of Electricity Bruce J. Walker, American Public Power Association President and CEO Sue Kelly, and Clark Gellings of Clark Gellings and Associates.

4: WAPA recognizes crew dedication, lessons learned – February
WAPA hosted a lessons-learned and recognition event Jan. 25 regarding the organization’s power restoration efforts in the U.S. Virgin Islands. Guests included U.S. Virgin Islands Lt. Gov. Osbert Potter, American Public Power Association Engineering Services Security Manager Sam Rozenberg and Virgin Islands Water and Power Authority Director of Transmission and Distribution Niel Vanterpool.

3: IT and Maintenance partner for asset inventory – April
Information Technology and Maintenance teamed up to complete an extensive inventory of substation assets in WAPA’s service territory. This provided an opportunity to eliminate knowledge gaps between the two programs and unify WAPA’s technology under a common inventory. This initiative reduces the risk and danger of cyberattacks, as well as helps the organization identify hardware and software that can be upgraded or updated to increase security and efficiency.

2: Chub swims away from endangered status – June
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced in April that the humpback chub, a federally protected fish that lives in the Colorado River, may find its classification downlisted from endangered to threatened within the next year. The humpback chub was included on FWS’ first list of endangered species in 1967, and it remained there ever since. Downlisting or delisting endangered species generally signifies an increase in the health of the ecosystem.

1: Crews restore power during historic blaze – September
In July a scraping tire rim set off a devastating wildfire in northern California, affecting many WAPA transmission lines and customers. High temperatures and drought conditions helped the blaze burn nearly 230,000 acres in total. Along with the Bureau of Reclamation and other organizations, WAPA assisted utilities in keeping the lights on and restoring power as necessary. The City of Redding Electric thanked WAPA’s crews for their assistance, and used one word to describe the response: astounding.

Note: Reed is a technical writer who works under the Wyandotte Services contract.

Last modified on March 8th, 2024