FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Feb. 8, 2012
CONTACT: Lisa Meiman, 970-962-7051, Meiman@wapa.gov
WESTERN ADMINISTRATOR SPEAKS AT LOCAL TRIBAL LEADER FORUM
|Western’s service territory crosses several Tribal lands, and Tribes make up more than 10 percent of Western’s customers.|
LAKEWOOD, Colo. — Western Area Power Administrator Tim Meeks spoke in Denver, Colo., Feb. 7, at the Tribal Leader Forum “Exploring the Business Link Opportunity: Transmission and Clean Energy Development in the West.”
The forum, sponsored by the Department of Energy and the second in a series of events, provided an opportunity for Tribal leaders to interact with industry and Federal leaders, get information about transmission development in the West and learn about the latest trends in financing clean energy projects.
Tracey LeBeau, Director of DOE’s Office of Indian Energy, kicked off the two-day event with opening remarks, “Our intention with this forum is to bring together key players in transmission and Tribal leaders and create a dialogue.”
Meeks focused his remarks on transmission expansion in the West and its impact on Tribal land. Western has approximately 100 tribal customers who receive the benefit of about 1.2 million megawatt-hours of electricity each year. Tribes now make up more than 10 percent of Western’s core power customers. Meeks shared, “When you look at our service area, we’re neighbors. We need this partnership, and we need to continue to work together.”
Last fiscal year Western held more than 70 public meetings and 40 tribal consultation meetings through the National Environmental Policy Act process to ensure public and Tribal concerns were heard and understood.
Western provides technical assistance to Tribes on all issues related to power marketing and transmission services. This year, it is hosting webinars related to Tribal renewable energy development.
Tribal lands and Western’s service area possess some of the best potential renewable energy sites in the country, and many Tribal nations are considering trying to develop those resources. The challenge is how to develop it and move it to markets over a congested transmission system. Meeks shared that 908 megawatts of wind serves load through Western’s transmission system, “We’ve made progress, but we have a ways to go.”
Western is involving Tribal communities with current transmission projects. The Electrical District 5 to Palo Verde Hub project allows for potential future renewable energy development from the Gila River Indian Community, Ak-Chin and Tohono O’Odham reservations. The Montana Alberta Tie Ltd. project may also benefit the Blackfeet Tribe with future renewable energy development. Western is also working with the Blackfeet Tribe to protect important resources within the project area. Meeks added, “We are looking forward to fleshing out these interesting opportunities for Indian country.”