FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: April 16, 2013
CONTACT: Randy Wilkerson, 720-962-7050, PublicAffairs@wapa.gov
NEW WESTERN ADMINISTRATOR MEETS HOUSE SUBCOMMITTEE
Mark Gabriel testifies on Western’s accomplishments and spending priorities
LAKEWOOD, Colo.—Mark Gabriel made his first appearance as Western Area Power Administration's Administrator April 16 before the Energy and Water Subcommittee of the House Natural Resources Committee. Gabriel highlighted Western's accomplishments and progress in delivering clean, reliable, renewable power to the western U.S., addressed opportunities created by challenges Western faces and discussed Western’s Fiscal Year 2014 budget request.
In prepared remarks, Gabriel told the Subcommittee, "Water is the lifeblood of the West, and Western, just like the farms and ranches we serve through our rural electric cooperative customers and irrigation districts, depends upon this precious resource."
In 2012, Western helped ensure the long-term certainty of access to Federal hydropower for our customers by conducting remarketing efforts on three projects: Pick-Sloan Missouri Basin Program—Eastern Division, the Loveland Area Projects and the Boulder Canyon Project through the Hoover Power Allocation Act of 2011.
Gabriel also highlighted the importance of Western's transmission system for the health of the interconnected grid in the western U.S. Gabriel noted, "The responsibility to operate our transmission system safely and reliably is paramount. Western’s customers, their customers and our employees depend on it, and we're proud of our record."
In 2012, Western's Sierra Nevada and Rocky Mountain Regions both had audits from the Western Electricity Coordinating Council to evaluate compliance with North American Electric Reliability Corporation's reliability standards. The audits again confirmed Western's outstanding reliability record. In addition, Western was also recognized by the American Public Power Association with its Safety Award of Excellence for our safe operating practices in 2012.
Gabriel also talked about Western's role in restoring power in New Jersey following Hurricane Sandy. In all, Western sent 91 employees, along with two helicopters and numerous trucks, to help with the power restoration effort. Western crews worked almost 19,000 hours with no accidents or injuries.Looking toward the future in the rapidly changing electricity industry, Gabriel said, "One of the most critical needs facing Western today is the ability to acquire adequate capital funding to make required infrastructure investments and sustain the level of reliability that Western and its customers have historically enjoyed and expect, while at the same time maintaining affordable services." He continued, "We are working together with our customers, Department of Energy and the Office of Management and Budget to identify potential solutions that follow the 'lowest possible rates consistent with sound business practices' and the 'beneficiary pays' principles and support Western's mission."
Western is requesting a net appropriation of $73.4 million. A considerable portion of Western's mission requirement is dependent on a combination of offsetting collections and alternative financing (including customer cash advances), which are used to fund a variety of Western activities including expenses, purchase power and wheeling and construction.
Gabriel concluded, noting that Western is working together with its customers to continue to be good stewards of the public's resources, "In our role as a power marketer, Western continues to ensure our customers can depend on low-cost Federal hydropower. As a transmission provider, Western is a leader both in improving the reliability of the Nation's grid and in safety. I am excited by the way Western is strategically seizing the opportunities that we face."
Western Area Power Administration annually markets and transmits more than 10,000 megawatts of clean, renewable power from hydroelectric powerplants owned and operated by the Bureau of Reclamation and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in 15 western and central states. It is part of the Department of Energy.
Serving the West with Federal hydropower
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