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California policy casts shadow on Wyoming wind

The California Public Utilities Commission recently adopted a measure that may have a negative effect on Wyoming's wind energy market. In March, the commission issued an order limiting the volume of tradable renewable energy credits that public utilities there can buy to meet California's renewable portfolio standard.

The California Public Utilities Commission recently adopted a measure that may have a negative effect on Wyoming's wind energy market.

In March, the commission issued an order limiting the volume of tradable renewable energy credits that public utilities there can buy to meet California's renewable portfolio standard.

On the face of it, it may sound like a good thing for Wyoming wind developers. But officials here say the order views Wyoming wind as a renewable credit rather than deliverable renewable power.

"They created another round of chaos in the marketplace as it relates to these proposed (wind energy and electrical transmission) projects," said Steve Ellenbecker, executive director of the Wyoming Infrastructure Authority.

The order is on hold, for now. California's major public utilities are opposed to the measure, as are wind developers outside the Golden State. The move has had a "chilling" effect on at least one major electrical transmission proposal aimed at sending Wyoming wind energy to the desert Southwest.

"Wyoming wind should be very attractive to the California market. But clearly there are some regulatory and political issues in California... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  

The California Public Utilities Commission recently adopted a measure that may have a negative effect on Wyoming's wind energy market.

In March, the commission issued an order limiting the volume of tradable renewable energy credits that public utilities there can buy to meet California's renewable portfolio standard.

On the face of it, it may sound like a good thing for Wyoming wind developers. But officials here say the order views Wyoming wind as a renewable credit rather than deliverable renewable power.

"They created another round of chaos in the marketplace as it relates to these proposed (wind energy and electrical transmission) projects," said Steve Ellenbecker, executive director of the Wyoming Infrastructure Authority.

The order is on hold, for now. California's major public utilities are opposed to the measure, as are wind developers outside the Golden State. The move has had a "chilling" effect on at least one major electrical transmission proposal aimed at sending Wyoming wind energy to the desert Southwest.

"Wyoming wind should be very attractive to the California market. But clearly there are some regulatory and political issues in California that cloud the opportunities for Wyoming's renewables," said John Dunn, manager of TransCanada's Zephyr Power Transmission Line Project.

The proposed Zephyr transmission line would tap into about 3,000 megawatts of wind energy in the Medicine Bow area and connect to Idaho then span south through eastern Nevada to south of Las Vegas.

TransCanada also proposes to construct the Chinook Power Transmission Line -- a 3,000 megawatt capacity line from south-central Montana to southern Nevada.

Dunn said TransCanada recently secured agreements with "credit-worthy" wind developers to meet the 3,000 megawatt capacity for the $3 billion Zephyr line.

"Permitting costs are on order of $80 million. So this is a major investment decision. We're looking for greater certainty in making a decision," to move forward, Dunn said.

Dunn suspects California's budget crisis places a lot of pressure on state leaders there to create as many jobs as possible. Developing renewable energy in-state is viewed as one way to do that.

There are seven proposals to construct new high-voltage transmission lines from Wyoming to large urban areas of the desert Southwest, with the California market being the major target. Ellenbecker said California's tradable renewable energy credit order jeopardizes not only the Zephyr project, but it likely injects some amount of uncertainty into all projects backed by independent developers.

The Energy Gateway South and Energy Gateway West projects, for example, likely are not impacted because those are backed by large public utilities with stronger financial wherewithal.

Ellenbecker said he's attended several state-level agency meetings in California regarding renewable energy, and the desire to develop in-state resources is strong -- and not just in California.

"States are falling all over themselves to promote in-state renewable development. You ought to see the unions, material suppliers and contractors cry out for California to build the resources there for the benefit of their economy and jobs," said Ellebecker.

While he believes states should develop their own renewable sources of energy, Ellenbecker said it's also vital to integrate the entire Western grid with renewable energy, fossil fuels and all energy sources.

"It's to the customers' advantage to develop (energy) at the lowest cost, and to integrate the grid," said Ellenbecker.


Source: http://trib.com/news/state-...

MAY 15 2010
http://www.windaction.org/posts/26367-california-policy-casts-shadow-on-wyoming-wind
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