Library from Oregon
The order forced wind farms along the Columbia River to shut down for about 10 hours during the past weekend. ..."Our folks are working as hard to minimize it, but as the runoff continues, it is certainly possible that it will happen again. It depends on a number of factors: the runoff, what the wind is doing. Certainly what amount of power people are using."
Rancher Hoyt Wilson's remote Mann Lake Ranch headquarters has Steens Mountain's north end for its backdrop. The breathtaking panorama that has gone unchanged since the Western frontier may one day be dominated by dozens of 415-foot-tall wind turbines, part of a $300 million renewable energy project. The project pits spectacular scenery against the production of energy.
The agency, which manages much of the power grid in the Northwest, confirmed it issued the orders during the early morning hours of Sunday and Monday, when demand is low. The action rekindles a dispute from last year, when the agency curtailed wind turbines because the water from a large mountain snowpack.
It's springtime in the Northwest ...Occasionally, it means more hydro and wind electricity is pulsing into the grid than anyone can use. That's a major problem for wind farm owners ...when BPA can suddenly shut down their output to prevent "over-generation." The cutoffs can mean millions of dollars in lost revenue, and put a cloud over further wind development in the Northwest.
Critics argue that Oregonians should not be asked to sacrifice Steens Mountain to a Washington-based, New York-financed company in order to generate electricity for California. ..."It's hard to find a place like Steens Mountain any more.
"Areas like the Boardman Range are few and far between and virtually impossible to create," said John Mosher, U.S. Pacific Fleet Northwest Environmental Program Manager. "The range has great military use right now and into the future."
The Umatilla County Planning Commission denied a permit for the power line Nov. 17, stating WKN should look for alternatives to an entirely new transmission line. WKN appealed that decision Dec. 6 and the board of commissioners, 2-0, denied its appeal Monday. Commissioner Bill Hansell recused himself from the hearing, citing a perception of a conflict of interest.
BPA said the policy, implemented between May and July of last year, resulted in the curtailment of 97,557 megawatt-hours of wind generation, or 5.4 percent of the total wind output connected to BPA's grid, for a loss of $2.15 million in renewable energy credits (REC) and production tax credit (PTC) income.
RICHLAND, Wash. When siting wind farms, it’s all about location. Where wind farms are built can have a dramatic effect on birds.
Energy company Iberdrola Renewables cited multiple factors for a decision to scale back on new projects. That led directly to layoffs in engineering, construction and development. "The low energy prices and the regulatory uncertainty here in the U.S. are by far the biggest decision makers," says company spokeswoman Jan Johnson.
"Iberdrola Renewables is focusing on operations in 2012 rather than new building due to low energy prices, a poor economy and regulatory uncertainty," Johnson said, adding that the company has a "solid balance sheet, positive cash flow and no real debt."
Worldwide, renewable-energy companies are reeling from overcapacity and plunging prices caused by an explosion in manufacturing and competition from low-cost producers in China and other countries. Some big U.S. and European solar companies have gone bankrupt, with more failures expected.
In a draft report, Oregon's Public Health Division acknowledges that noise from wind turbine blades may cause health problems among nearby homeowners. But the agency does not intend to take action against the burgeoning wind power industry.
Next fall, developers hope to break ground on a wind farm big enough to provide electricity for all of Central Oregon. But the whirring blades of wind turbines can kill the federally protected golden eagle --.and now a controversial proposal says that's okay, to a limited extent.
The order ignited something of a brush fire in Northwest energy circles, with BPA's public utility customers making a perennial complaint that the feds are usurping control of an agency that, by statute, is supposed to benefit the region. They also reject the idea that BPA should absorb any costs to integrate wind power onto the grid, since the bulk of that electricity is shipped out of state.
Among the environmental group's objections: The Echanis wind turbines would go on 10,000 acres along a ridge used by golden eagles and other raptors and could block migration routes for elk and mule deer. Power generated by the turbines also is likely to go directly to California "at the cost of one of Oregon's crown jewels," Little said.
Members of Blue Mountain Alliance, the group appealing the Chopin Wind Project, are preparing for the hearing before the Umatilla County Board of Commissioners on Nov. 28. “As a group of individuals, we meet as we have time and discuss how we’re going to approach the seven items listed in the appeal and prioritize our efforts where we think will be best,” said Norm Kralman, of Milton-Freewater.
Government agencies that depend on radar -- such as the Department of Defense and the National Weather Service -- are spending millions in a scramble to preserve their detection capabilities. ...Spinning wind turbines make it hard to detect incoming planes. To avoid that problem, military officials have blocked wind farm construction near their radars -- and in some cases later allowed them after politicians protested.
The subsidies available for wind projects allow Duke to earn returns on equity of 17 to 22 percent. In other words, for all of the bragging by the wind-industry proponents about the rapid growth in wind-generation capacity, the main reason that capacity is growing is that companies such as GE and Duke are able to goose their profits by putting up turbines so they can collect subsidies from taxpayers.
Critics such as Friends of the Columbia Gorge also contend the company's wildlife and noise surveys were inadequate, and that the minimal amount of energy generated won't be worth the permanent damage ...Five organizations, led by the Seattle Audubon Society, filed this week for regulators to undertake a new analysis of how the project would impact the spotted owl, an endangered species.