There's power in the West, thanks to Western Area Power Administration. One of four power marketing agencies of the US Department of Energy, the enterprise operates 57 hydroelectric power plants and one fossil-fueled power generation facility with a combined generating capacity of about 10,480 MW. It also manages and maintains more than 17,100 miles of transmission lines. Western Area Power Administration sells wholesale power to investor-owned, government-owned, and cooperative utilities, power marketers, federal agencies, native American tribes and other electricity users (more than 680 direct customers with a total of 11.4 million end users) in 15 western states over a 1.3-million-sq.-mi. service area.
In 2009 the enterprise unveiled a multiyear project to find partnerships to develop Western Area Power Administration's transmission infrastructure (using renewable energy sources) to meet the power demands of its service area. About $3.25 billion in loans is being sought from the federal government to fund the plan.
In this regard, in 2010 Western had some 80 requests to interconnect more than 16,000 MW of wind generation to the power grid, and nine interconnection requests to integrate 3,375 MW of solar power generation in the Desert Southwest Region. It is also working closely with other California transmission providers to help that state meet its ambitious green energy goal of 33% of its total power from renewable energy sources by 2020.
Increased power demand prompted by a hotter-than-normal summer helped to lift revenues. This, and some cost savings and consolidation measures (such as merging its Desert Southwest and Rocky Mountain operations and transmission services) helped to lift net income in 2010.
Western Area Power Administration was founded in 1977. Its hydroelectric power plants are owned and operated by the Bureau of Reclamation and the US Army Corps of Engineers.
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