Portland, Oregon – During the late June heatwave, the four dams on the lower Snake River provided much-needed energy, balancing and contingency reserves, and Ice Harbor dam on the lower Snake River played a key role in keeping the lights on in the Tri-Cities area in eastern Washington. Without these four dams, powering through the heatwave could have been much more expensive and operationally challenging.
“This is another example of the value these facilities provide the region from a clean energy perspective,” said Administrator John Hairston. “As the region continues to discuss the future of these facilities, we believe it is important to provide data and information about their performance as a solid foundation for discussions about the future of these four dynamic dams that provide carbon-free electricity and are important assets to mitigating the impacts of climate change.”
Power and Reserves provision
As the entire Northwest experienced record or near-record temperatures and record energy demand in parts of the region between June 25 and 30, BPA was able to meet high summer demand through careful power and transmission planning. BPA also canceled planned transmission maintenance to ensure high electricity flows would not cause congestion, which can lead to cascading outages across the region and the west.
At the four lower Snake River dams, operators ensured river flows were at or above minimum levels for juvenile fish migration. This meant the operation of the dams on the lower Snake River would fill each project overnight so there was enough water for fish and power production during the peak electricity consumption hours of the day.
For the duration of the heatwave, electrical generation on the four Snake River dams ranged between 439 and 1,009 megawatts. For perspective, the average consumption of the City of Seattle is approximately 1,000 MW. However, the four dams did much more. To be prepared for an emergency, BPA must have the ability to call on power reserves to ensure it can keep the lights on. For example, in the event that generators on the grid go out of service unexpectedly, other generators must be available to increase their power output instantaneously to ensure grid stability. The dams also provided balancing reserves to move up and down to adjust for generators that can stray from their energy schedules. As the region adds more intermittent renewable energy to mitigate climate change, these balancing reserves are becoming even more important.
Over this five-day heatwave, BPA transferred some reserve requirements to the four lower Snake River dams. At times, these four dams held 15% of BPA’s total required reserves, peaking at 220 MW. At their highest, these dams provided 1,118 MW of combined energy production and reserve capacity.
Ice Harbor relieves Tri-Cities transmission capacity issue
Ice Harbor dam played a key role in keeping the lights on in the Tri-Cities area during last month’s intense heat. Had Ice Harbor not been generating, it is likely BPA would have had to work with local customers to shift loads, which can take time and require some power outages or have rolling blackouts in selected areas in the Tri-Cities to protect the system from wider, cascading outages.
“BPA relies on Ice Harbor to relieve stress on our transmission system in the Tri-Cities area,” said Vice President of Transmission Operations Michelle Cathcart. “During the recent heatwave, Ice Harbor provided voltage stabilization and helped increase the amount of energy our system could provide to parts of the Tri-Cities.”
Post-heatwave analysis by BPA transmission engineers indicates, if Ice Harbor had not been generating, an unplanned loss of one of the key transformer banks would have caused a System Operating Limit exceedance. Also, the loss of a different key transformer bank would have pushed a facility to 98% of its capacity. While BPA did not have to work with customers to implement rolling blackouts, that may not have been the case if Ice Harbor were offline.
“If not for Ice Harbor, we would have been scrambling with customers to move loads around to avoid putting customers in the dark,” said Cathcart. “Given the amount of work done to avoid rotating blackouts with Ice Harbor in service last week, it’s hard to imagine getting enough additional relief from moving loads around to keep the lights on everywhere with the plant offline.”
. BPA markets the power from the lower Snake River dams and 27 other federal dams across the Northwest. The four federal dams on the lower Snake River have long been discussed for breaching or removal to help several runs of salmon and steelhead recover. In addition to delivering affordable and reliable carbon-free renewable, and providing critical support for the region’s high-voltage transmission system, these dams feature state-of-the art fish passage technology, and contribute to the region’s economy by supporting irrigation, navigation and recreation.
The Tri-Cities of Kennewick, Pasco, and Richland are at the confluence of the Yakima, Snake, and Columbia rivers.
The Bonneville Power Administration, headquartered in Portland, Oregon, is a nonprofit federal power marketer that sells wholesale, carbon-free hydropower from 31 federal dams in the Columbia River Basin. It also markets the output of the region’s only nuclear plant. BPA delivers this power to more than 140 Northwest electric utilities, serving millions of consumers and businesses in Washington, Oregon, Idaho, western Montana and parts of California, Nevada, Utah and Wyoming. BPA also owns and operates more than 15,000 circuit miles of high-voltage power lines and 261 substations, and provides transmission service to more than 300 customers. In all, BPA provides nearly a third of the power generated in the Northwest. To mitigate the impacts of the federal dams, BPA implements a fish and wildlife program that includes working with its partners to make the federal dams safer for fish passage. It also pursues cost-effective energy savings and operational solutions that help maintain safe, affordable, reliable electric power for the Northwest.
RICHLAND, Wash. - Several Washington State University faculty are the recipients of a $1.4 million grant from the Institute of Education Sciences to refine and expand an assessment that helps address truancy in K-12 schools.
The Washington Assessment of the Risks and Needs of Students program, also known as WARNS, uses evidence-driven procedures to track and improve interventions with students. The program was developed in 2008 to assess students on a scale of six needs that have been linked to truancy, delinquency and/or dropping out of school: aggression-defiance, depression-anxiety, substance abuse, peer deviance, family environment and school engagement. More than 100 schools in Washington state and across the nation are now using the tool.
Paul Strand, WSU Tri-Cities professor of psychology, Brian French, Berry Family Distinguished professor and director of WSU’s Learning and Performance Research Center and Psychometric Laboratory, Nick Lovrich, WSU Regents professor emeritus, and Bruce Austin, research associate in educational psychology and the LPRC, have worked since 2014 to evaluate and refine WARNS. With the grant, the group is also adding the following members to their team to help refine the tool: Chad Gotch and Marcus Poppen, both WSU assistant professors in education, and Mary Roduta Roberts, an associate professor of occupational therapy at the University of Alberta.
French said what makes the program so successful is its ability to hone-in on issues that lead to truancy early in a student’s educational path. Schools can develop a plan for how to address those issues and increase the student’s likelihood of being successful. He said what was made especially clear amid the COVID-19 pandemic is the need to get information to counselors regarding student issues at home and other external factors that prevent students’ current and future success.
“This grant will also allow us more space to examine its success,” French said. “We will also be looking into specific implications of the WARNS – how it is used and the success when it is in use. We want to look at the implications and gather data to know how those conversations are helping and specific instances of how that is happening. Then, we can continue to build from that information.”
Updating the assessment
Strand said the new grant will allow the team to update the instrument in a few ways. He said a variety of new issues have arisen that have impacted school attendance and performance in recent years. Examples, he said, include the prevalence of vaping and social media use.
Additionally, the team aims to improve the middle school version of the instrument to tailor it further for issues that pertain to that specific age demographic.
“The grant allows us to explore the context of student situations and how to refine WARNS to reflect that context,” Strand said.
Identifying issues early to reduce truancy, drop-out rates
French said more than 10,000 assessments have been given through the program.
“To me, that represents 10,000 productive conversations that have occurred with kids,” he said. “We can look at the large numbers to help us do that, but each of those individual conversations are helping make a difference in the lives of thousands of kids each year.”
Strand said schools use the data from the assessment to develop and implement a plan for at-risk students through school community truancy boards to help prevent and/or correct student behavior.
“With the pandemic, we have seen that many counselors are struggling to stay connected and invested in kids,” he said. “But what we have seen with WARNS is that it has helped schools stay connected and invested in kids. The pandemic wasn’t something we could have envisioned, but it is a tool that has helped.”
For more information about WARNS, including how to implement it for individual schools or school districts, visit warns.wsu.edu.
100% of the project will be financed with federal money as a grant from the Institute of Education Sciences. The total dollar amount of grant funding received is $1,408,482.
Also view the press release on the WSU Tri-Cities website: https://tricities.wsu.edu/wsu-faculty-receive-1-4-million-grant-for-assessment-addressing-truancy-in-schools/