Library filed under Energy Policy from Oregon
Bottom line, staff and the ratepayer groups contend that PGE simply doesn't need another wind farm right now, particularly in the Gorge. Wind farms produce lots of energy, but they are inherently unpredictable, meaning they can't be relied on to fill the capacity ...During the region's recent heat wave. wind farms in the Gorge were often producing little to no electricity.
Oregon’s two biggest utilities, major industrial users and the Citizens’ Utility Board are all opposing legislation that would carve out a portion of Oregon’s renewable portfolio standard for small-scale projects.
The energy bill has been controversial since before the legislative session began, because of news reports that Gov. Kate Brown’s administration instructed the Public Utility Commission not to go public with concerns the bill would be expensive for customers yet do little to reduce emissions from coal power plants.
"This session we've seen the Democrat majority put their partisan agenda ahead of both the needs of Oregonians and the law," his statement said. "Senate Republicans will not work late into the night to fast track an agenda pursued by the Democrat majority that features back room deals between Democrats and special interests and numerous broken promises of collaboration and compromise."
Commissioners and staff at the Oregon Public Utility Commission believe the bill would increase electricity costs and shift risk from utilities to ratepayers. They also say it wouldn't actually reduce carbon dioxide emissions, according to communications released to The Oregonian/OregonLive in response to a public records request.
All of these policies are going to make it more costly to produce gasoline and diesel. In fact, that's the intended purpose of so-called "market-based" schemes to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. By making the energy we need and use every day more costly to produce, other energy supplies — like wind, solar, biofuels and hydrogen fuel cells — will become more competitive.
A recent influx of power-hungry data centers is pushing smaller Eastern Oregon utilities closer to large-utility status. Faced with the prospect of complying with the tougher standards, a lobbyist for the Umatilla Electric Cooperative has been collecting signatures for a ballot measure that would allow Umatilla and other consumer-owned utilities to get around the mandates.
Over the last several years the Pacific Northwest spent about $5 billion and impacted over 50,000 acres of pristine public land for the privilege of throwing away 9 billion kWhrs of carbon-free energy every year. Just so we can meet an arbitrary state mandate, claim we’re green, and make a few folks lots of money in tax credits, the cost of which gets passed onto the rate-payers and tax-payers.
A small group of public utilities led by Umatilla Electric Cooperative asked the Legislature last year to change the definition of qualifying resources under the law to include the region’s massive supply of hydropower. Umatilla is close to going over the three percent threshold, triggering the stiffer requirements. Including hydro resources would let it off the compliance hook.
Taxpayers should be dismayed by the Shepherds Flat wind farm mess, which The Oregonian's Ted Sickinger dissected on Sunday and Monday. They also should be relieved. By the narrowest of margins, the Oregon Senate this year stalled another complex clean-energy program that many Oregonians would regret in several years, long after it had gained too much momentum (and subsidized too many businesses) to stop easily.
You might have seen wind turbines springing up all over the Northwest in the past decade. This year, the region's wind industry has faced a different story. Not a single new wind farms is under construction in the Northwest.
An initiative that would allow utilities to count all hydroelectric power toward renewable energy requirements was approved this week for signature gathering. The initiative seeks to alter renewable portfolio standards approved in 2007 ...The law prohibits large utilities from counting hydroelectric power generated by dams built before 1995 towards the standard.
Jackson threw out the bulk of Ralls’s lawsuit against the Obama administration, which focused on whether the president exceeded his power by ordering the company, an affiliate of China’s Sany Group Co., to sell the wind farm assets. “The statute expressly authorizes the president to do what he deems necessary to accomplish or implement the prohibition."
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."
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.
"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."
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.
Paying negative prices would reduce BPA's surplus power sales, which would ultimately increase its own customers' rates. BPA contends its customers shouldn't have to subsidize California ratepayers, since most wind power is sold out of state. BPA has curtailed some 100,000 megawatt hours of electricity from wind farms so far this year.