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Avanagrid Renewables, which already has nearly 1,300 megawatts of operating wind power in the region and is building a big project that will sell its output to Apple, has acquired a permitted but unbuilt project in the Columbia River Gorge.
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.
Capital Power Corporation this month filed a notice of intent with the state’s Energy Facility Siting Council to seek a site certificate for the Nolin Hills Wind Power Project, capable of producing up to 350 megawatts of power. It would be located about 10 miles west of Pendleton.
Regulators have cleared Apple’s Oregon wind power project to use the biggest turbines ever deployed in the Pacific Northwest.
Now, the agency is under fire again for ignoring state rules and allowing recipients of its energy tax credits to resell them at firesale prices. Three top managers resigned recently, including the governor's energy advisor and the agency's chief financial officer. Utilities recently sued, claiming the agency was illegally manipulating annual assessments on energy companies to backfill its budget.
A year ago, the feds whittled their way from seven proposed projects, each of which had received $4 million in design and planning support, to a trio that would get as much as $47 million apiece to help fund construction. The goal was to have the projects up and running in 2017, but all three – Fishermen’s Energy in New Jersey, Dominion Virginia Power’s VOWTAP and now WindFloat – are facing potentially fatal cost-related challenges.
Iberdrola Renewables is seeking permission to delay construction of the 404MW Montague wind project in Oregon by two years.
On Feb. 25, Maxwell Woods of the Oregon Department of Energy sent out an email announcing that E.ON Climate & Renewables North America had withdrawn its application for the 76,000-acre Brush Canyon Wind Power Facility that would have had as many as 223 wind turbines — some reaching within 2 miles of Antelope and Shaniko.
Interviews and an examination of thousands of pages of documents show that state officials wrongly awarded millions in state tax credits, turning a blind eye to phony documents. The project also was dogged by an international trade war, a bitter corporate rivalry and a stunning twist that traded high-paid Oregon jobs for prison labor at 93 cents an hour.
“People think there’s some farmer going out and turning these things (wind turbines) on, but it’s actually huge corporations, and my concern is that they are so intent on getting what they want they’re not looking at everything,” he said. “These are tiny dots of towns out here, with no expert city staff or attorneys."
The West Coast, meanwhile, has lost some of its renewable energy luster. It was once one of the fastest growing markets for wind turbines as utilities in Oregon, Washington and California rushed to meet their respective states' renewable energy mandates. But that growth has slowed as utilities achieved initial state targets and California switched its focus to solar.
After months of behind-the-scenes arm-twisting, Oregon legislators gave their initial blessing to a compromise bill that lets small, publicly owned electric utilities off the hook – temporarily -- for required investments in renewable energy projects. PacifiCorp and Portland General Electric initially didn't like that option, as it sets up a two-tiered system for compliance with state mandates and potentially puts them at a disadvantage in attracting energy intensive new customers. But they forced a quid pro quo in the bargain.
The developer of a proposed wind farm in Eastern Oregon is trying to find regional utilities interested in buying the power. Chicago-based Invenergy LLC plans to build as many as 280 wind turbines on private land east of Heppner. The farm could generate 500 megawatts of electricity.
Seeking to curb how much power it must buy from the Stateline Wind Project in Umatilla and Walla Walla counties, the utility earlier this month sued J.P. Morgan Ventures Energy Corp., a branch of New York-based J.P. Morgan, which owns the contract requiring EWEB to buy power from Stateline through 2026.
EDP's project manager for Antelope Ridge, said the withdrawal was "100 percent a business decision." The company faced a considerable investment to proceed with its site certificate, and didn't see a clear path to sell the power at this point.
The application for the Antelope Ridge wind farm has been withdrawn. No explanation for the withdrawal was included in a letter sent to the Department of Energy earlier this week, and Union County Commissioner Steve McClure says they haven't received any details from the company.
Grove and other commissioners believe wind farms would affect the local economy as well. The county has "spent a lot of money" promoting the Oregon Trail, Grove said during the lengthy discussion. Erecting turbines isn't "preserving an asset in particular interest to the community," he said.
A standing-room only crowd attended a Baker County Planning Commission meeting Tuesday concerning two wind farms that could be built near Huntington and Lime. The meeting lasted more than four hours. Dozens of residents spoke about the proosals, and most opposed new wind farms.
New wind energy development is off to a slow start in 2013, following a surge of projects last year that added 1,700 megawatts of generation across the Pacific Northwest.
The Bonneville Power Administration (BPA) this week released a new proposal to share the "oversupply costs" that pile up when there is not enough demand for all the electricity produced by hydroelectric dams and wind-power producers. During these oversupply periods, when wind-power producers may be asked to shut down, the plan would compensate them for lost revenue, according to Doug Johnson, a BPA spokesman.