Updated: October 2013
Reader Recap: When that light goes on at the flip of a switch, it represents the balanced coordination of short and long term power purchases, power scheduling, and an array of local infrastructure, linemen, and engineers, that team to provide reliable power to our community and the lab.
Did You Know? DPU is teaming with the New Energy and Technology Development Organization (NEDO) of Japan, Los Alamos National Lab and others to build a Smart Grid here which will include a photovoltaic array on the capped landfill.
Electric Production and Supply
In 1985 the DPU and the Department of Energy formed a power pool through an Electric Coordination Agreement (ECA). This allowed the two entities to blend resources. Los Alamos County's resources under the ECA are as follows:
- San Juan Generating Station Unit 4 (coal, 36 megawatts)
- Laramie River Station entitlement (coal, 10 megawatts)
- El Vado hydroelectric facility (hydropower, 8 megawatts)
- Abiquiu hydroelectric facility (hydropower, 18 megawatts)
- Los Alamos' Western Area Power Administration entitlement (hydropower, 1 megawatt)
- County transmission arrangements
- County purchased power contracts
Soon DPU will obtain power from a local source, the planned 2 megawatt* photovoltaic array on the East Jemez landfill site. The site was identified, then selected from a joint feasibility study on potential bright field location conducted by Los Alamos National Lab and DPU staff.
*Note: Megawatt versus megawatt hour: A watt is a unit of power. One megawatt is a million watts of electricity. A megawatt hour is a million watts that were produced or consumed over an hour period. For example - one megawatt hour is enough electricity to power approximately 350 homes for an hour.
Los Alamos County's electric distribution network provides power to more than 8,500 ratepayers. Departmental priorites for maintenance and enhancements are assessed regularly. While no Utility provider can ever guarantee that power will never be interrupted, the DPU has established a goal for itself to reduce outages to less than the System Average Interruption Duration Index (SAIDI) for communities of our size as determined by the American Public Power Association. The APPA index for average, accumulated down time for a year that a customer could expect is 60 minutes. To realize this goal the DPU developed an Electric Reliability Plan (developed in 2011 and updated in 2012) based off of data collected in the 2006 Condition Assessment and continuing system inspections.
Electric Grid Maintenance (EGM)
Reducing the frequency, duration, and number of customers impacted by power outages is the primary objective of the multi-year Electric Grid Maintenance program which is putting the Electric Reliability Plan into action. A key component of this aggressive maintenance program is to address trees which may come into contact with overhead lines. DPU has prepared a briefing on Maintaining the Power Line Right-of-Way. Community dialogue is a significant component of this program, which includes regularly published outage and reliability performance reports and current highlights of the EGM program.
The DPU provides about 25 percent of Los Alamos and White Rock power from renewable resources and we're aiming for more. Through an entitlement with the Western Area Power Administration and the two County-owned hydroelectric facilities DPU provides clean hydroelectric power. Additionally we offer our customers the option to purchase certified renewable wind power through Renewable Energy Credits purchased by LA Green. We are embarking on a Smart Grid project which will include a 2 megawatt photovoltaic array to be built on the county's capped land fill (located on leased DOE land).
Solar power generated by customers can offset utility bill charges for
electricity. Several ratepayers have explored the installation of solar
photovoltaic arrays at their homes, and the DPU supports these endeavors
through Net Metering, and guidance on the safe interconnection of
customers' electric generation with the local grid. Learn more here or
download the full Residential Solar Power packet.
The DPU, in accordance with Board of Public Utilities' direction, and the 2013 Customer Survey's expressed preference (p. 71) explores,
intiates and executes upon renewable energy projects to steadily decrease the amount of power purchsaed from conventional coal-fired power sources.
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