The Colorado River Commission (CRC) held a workshop Oct. 30 to explain the process and timeline for the upcoming sale of power from Hoover Dam.
The workshop was held in the Grant Sawyer Office Building in Las Vegas.
The CRC’s Hydro Power Program manager Craig Pyper explained, “The purpose of the workshop is to raise awareness of it (power available for new customers) in Nevada and so we can get more people …trying to get some Hoover power for their entity. I want more power for the state of Nevada.”
Sales of power from Hoover Dam are not handled like sales with of other power generators, Pyper explained. “The power generated at Hoover has been allocated by Congress since 1928.” Renewal of contracts requires an act of the U.S. Congress.
In January 2011, Nevada Representative Joe Heck and three California representatives introduced a bi-partisan bill in the House of Representatives to renew and update contracts approved by the Hoover Power Plant Act of 1984.
The power that has become available for sale to new customers is the result of changes to existing user contracts. The renewed contracts will be for 95 percent of existing power commitments. The remaining 5 percent of the energy will be used to serve new customers.
Power will be available to new Nevada users through two agencies: the CRC and the Western Area Power Administration (WAPA).
Pyper explained, “The Colorado River Commission is the state agency that has contracts with the federal dams, basically Glenn Canyon which is part of the Salt Lake Project, Boulder Canyon which is Hoover Dam and Parker Davis dams.”
Arizona has its own state agency, the Arizona Power Authority. California does not have a state agency. Entities have individual contracts with the federal government for the dam power in California. Under the new terms, each state has been given an allocation of roughly 11.5 megawatts (MW) it may sell.
“Western” as the WAPA is called, will begin its formal marketing and allocation process to potential users in all three states. Pyper noted, “Western will be allocating 69 MW (and it) can be anywhere in Arizona, California or Nevada. That’s part of what they call their marketing area.” He added, “Western is limited as to who they can allocate to…They’re limited to municipal state and local municipal entities and Indian tribes.”
He said the Moapa Band of Paiutes was aware of the upcoming availability and was planning to approach Western for an allocation. When asked if the Overton Power District (OPD) could apply for the power that Western and the CRC will have available for allocation, he replied, “Nope. It’s for new customers.” He went on to note, “Overton Power District already is a Hoover customer so they’re actually losing five percent of their Hoover allocation.”
Overton Power District is one of Hoover’s oldest customers. It was one of the first entities to apply for power in the 1930s. Originally it applied as a single entity but later pulled its application in order to include Mesquite in the application. The result was the OPD filing fell from No. 2 to No. 5, resulting in the unusual name of OPD-No.5
The October workshop is the first step in a process which is just being formulated. “We’re trying to get people aware that there’s an opportunity for Hoover power,” Pyper explained. When asked several hypothetical questions about the process, he noted, “We’re trying to get people aware that there’s an opportunity for Hoover power.”
“All the criteria hasn’t been developed yet. I don’t know what Western’s criteria is going to be. They haven’t even developed it themselves. They’re in the process of doing it.”