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Western celebrates its 30-year anniversary and looks ahead to the future

On Dec. 21, 1977, high gas prices and an emphasis on conservation led Congress to create the Department of Energy, including Western Area Power Administration—a new agency to sell and deliver hydropower across 15 central and western states. Three decades later, in 2007 our nation was concerned with the same issues that resulted in the birth of Western, making our mission of delivering clean, renewable energy all the more crucial to meeting the energy demands of the day.

An expanded mission
Yet in 30 years, we saw our mission expand. Beginning with the
Path 15 Upgrade Project, we have entered into another era of transmission construction to ensure our nation’s bulk interconnected power grid is capable of delivering enough power to meet increasing load growth. We were also seeing our role in renewable energy expand to include green tag purchases on behalf of other agencies and utilities. We also began to manage incredible numbers of interconnection requests for wind generation. Finally, we continued building upon our relationships with our tribal customers, who have increased tenfold since the Energy Planning and Management Program gave tribes the opportunity to receive the benefits of Federal hydropower.

Looking ahead
In three decades, five administrators have led our agency through numerous changes and
defining moments in our history. As we continue forward into the next 30 years as an agency, a new senior management team will define our strategic focus and mission. As our nation’s population and energy needs increase, we no doubt will continue to have a role in helping to ensure a stable, clean source of energy supply. Our employees will emphasize innovation as we forge ahead in an era of rapid technological advances, new legislation and industry regulations and shrinking appropriations. We know that the decisions we make today need to keep our long-term future in mind as we look ahead to the next 30 years.  

30 years of memories
Hear in their own words what past and present employees recall about the major projects and programs that have defined Western as an agency. Public Affairs featured their memories in a booklet entitled, “Looking back and looking ahead—perspectives on 30 years of change at Western,” which was published fall 2007 to commemorate Western's 30-year anniversary on Dec. 21, 2007. The booklet gives first-hand accounts of the changes employees have experienced and how they shaped our agency. 

Here is a sampling of employees' memories on which the booklet is based.  

  • Deb Bean, Western's Procurement manager, recalls the changes in Western's bidding process, Human Capital Management efforts and how technology and Transformation dramatically changed the Procurement function.
  • Bob Harris, Upper Great Plains Regional manager, recollects Native American tribal allocations, efforts to privatize Western, rate adjustments and the Billings plane crash.
  • Laurent Webber, formerly Western's Cyber Security Program manager, discusses the development of cyber security, Y2K and ongoing efforts to secure Western's systems and data.

You can also read a narrative of Western’s first 25 years in Serving the West: Western Area Power Administration’s First 25 years as a Power Marketing Agency.”