Library filed under Transmission from Oregon
About 900 new plants, most of which produce renewable energy, were proposed last year, compared with 300 in 2004, said Glenn McGrath, an analyst with the federal agency. “Regardless of where you go, there’s always some issues—whether it’s bats, whether it’s birds, whether it’s wealthy landowners who don’t want their view interrupted,” said Dan Shreve, wind-energy research director at consulting firm Wood Mackenzie. “As a consequence, you see these initiatives drag on forever.”
The 8.6-mile line would cross farmland and forestland, drawing opposition from landowners in its path who worry about impediments to agriculture and logging. Opponents argue that a new transmission line between Tillamook and Oceanside isn’t justified by actual electricity demand, but may instead be intended as a connection to future wave power or offshore wind energy projects.
Staff advisers at Oregon's utility regulator threw cold water on PacifiCorp's plan to spend $3.5 billion, one of its biggest upgrades ever, on wind turbines and a new transmission line. The Public Utility Commission staff say the utility had failed to justify the need for the massive capital investments, whether to meet its capacity, energy or reliability needs.
Jerry Rietmann, co-owner of the Ione-based Wheatridge Wind Energy, said the plan would make best use of both energy corridors to meet the region’s power needs. The route along the east side of Bombing Range Road could also become a singular site for new wind energy transmission, Rietmann said. Wheatridge Wind Energy is proposing a 500-megwatt wind farm in southern Morrow and Umatilla counties.
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.
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.
Even the lower end of the range -- which assumes no development for California -- is a substantial amount of power, and would exacerbate transmission issues and volatility in wholesale power prices. Wind development has already outstripped growth in regional demand. And an already clogged transmission system means the energy generated can't always be exported.
Questions are stirring about whether Oregon's future energy demands are enough to merit construction of a new 500-kilovolt transmission line from Boardman to Salem. Portland General Electric says the Cascade Crossing Transmission Project is needed to transmit electricity from existing and future wind farms planned in Eastern Oregon and to meet future energy demands.
So when the next threat came to the valley - a proposed transmission line of 190-foot-high towers that would run through their ranches and obscure their scenic views on its way to the Columbia River - folks here knew that words mattered. That was a lesson Idaho Power executives had to learn the hard way.
Vestas Americas, the sales and service arm of Danish wind-turbine maker Vestas Wind Systems, cut 114 positions on Wednesday, or 6 percent of its North American work force, because of softening demand for renewable energy projects, a spokeswoman confirmed. Among the cuts were 15 positions at its North American headquarters in Portland.
Oregon farmers in the path of a proposed 200-mile power line planned between Boardman and Salem are speaking out against it. Growers say they are concerned about farming restrictions Portland General Electric would impose in easements under the 500-kilovolt line. And they question whether it is needed.
The rows of white turbines spinning over wheat fields and ridgelines in eastern Oregon are ample evidence that renewable energy from wind is real and growing. ...But wind developers are just getting started. And thousands of miles of new power lines carried by skyscraper-sized steel towers will need to be laid across deserts, farms and forests as more wind farms rise in farther-flung corners of Oregon and the West. It won't be cheap, or without controversy.