Office of Electricity

Congratulations to SWPA on 75 Years of Delivering Energy to American Communities and Businesses

October 19, 2018

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On behalf of the Department of Energy, I would like to congratulate the Southwestern Power Administration (SWPA) on its 75th anniversary. I had the pleasure of visiting SWPA yesterday to join colleagues in celebrating this impressive milestone, meet with staff, and tour the nearby Keystone Dam. But before I tell you more about my trip, allow me to share some of SWPA’s fascinating history.

As I always remind everyone I talk to, a secure and resilient power grid is vital to national security, a strong economy, and the services Americans rely on every day. That fact was just as true 75 years ago during World War II when SWPA was created to market and transmit energy from newly-constructed power facilities to the factories, businesses, and towns supporting the war effort. Today, SWPA continues to play a vital role in helping ensure the power grid is secure and resilient. As one of four Power Marketing Administrations in the United States, SWPA markets hydroelectric power in Arkansas, Kansas, Louisiana, Missouri, Oklahoma, and Texas from 24 U.S. Army Corps of Engineers dams. Ultimately, that power serves over 8 million customers.

During my tour yesterday of the Keystone Dam with SWPA Administrator Mike Wech and senior SWPA staff, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) personnel explained the Dam’s history and operations. When you visit a hydropower facility in person, the sheer power and size leave an indelible impression. Nationally, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers multi-purpose dams are the largest producer of hydropower in the United States, and one of the largest in the world.

 

A/S Walker preparing to tour the Keystone Dam
USACEHQ Plant Manager Tom Henry, SWPA Administrator Mike Wech and Assistant Secretary Bruce J. Walker at the Keystone Dam (L-R)
SWPA Administrator Wech and Assistant Secretary Walker at the Keystone Dam
SWPA Administrator Mike Wech and Assistant Secretary Bruce J. Walker at the Keystone Dam (L-R)
View from the top of Keystone Dam
View from the top of Keystone Dam

My discussions with Administrator Wech and his staff during this week’s trip were extremely productive. Given the increasing nature and sophistication of the threats to the Nation’s energy infrastructure, the Department of Energy has begun to identify and designate U.S. defense critical electric infrastructure to ensure the resilient nature of the grid. With its extensive footprint, assets, and customers, SWPA is a vital partner in this important effort.

I would like to thank SWPA and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for their hospitality. A special thanks to Mike Wech for making my first visit to SWPA so successful and for arranging the great discussion with Nicki Fuller, Executive Director of Southwestern Power Resources Associations which represents SWPA customers.

   

 

Photo of Assistant Secretary Walker speaking at the SWPA 75th anniversary celebration
Assistant Secretary Bruce J. Walker at the SWPA 75th Anniversary Celebration

As I told everyone at last night’s celebration, the capabilities and continued excellence of SWPA are critically important to me and to the Department of Energy. And we look forward to the next 75 years of this important partnership.