Library from Washington
Oversupply of renewable energy is expected to continue affecting Clark County and Washington, with no clear solution on the horizon, according to Bonneville Power Administration officials. With wind energy farms expanding in the Columbia River Gorge, the federal power marketing agency has struggled with the issue of energy oversupply.
Some might have gotten perverse satisfaction that the west side of the Cascades was to get a dose of the visual blight that wind power generators bring. But frankly, we feel Western Washington is entirely too beautiful to be subjected to those spinning giants.
But an agency official says the five public utilities backing the proposed 82-megawatt Radar Ridge project failed to understand the environmental review process the service was required to follow in considering a project that could affect the threatened marbled murrelet, a rare seabird that nests in old-growth forests near the ocean.
Energy Northwest and four southwest Washington utilities have canceled the Radar Ridge wind power project, which had been proposed as the first major wind farm in Western Washington. Energy Northwest of Richland announced the decision Wednesday at a board meeting in Portland.
Plans for the first major wind farm in Western Washington have been canceled because of federal restrictions to protect a threatened seabird, the marbled murrelet. ...Last week, Clallam PUD voted to get out of the deal. The PUD had spent four years and about 300-thousand dollars in developing the wind farm.
And in this state, Chris Gleason, community and media services manager for Tacoma Public Utilities, said the wind industry "is no longer in its infancy" and that tax subsidies have distorted the market, leading to overdevelopment of wind power in the Northwest.
Snohomish County PUD officials estimate that acquiring renewables ahead of need - just to comply with the law - could cost its ratepayers between $20 million to $30 million by 2020 if additional growth doesn't come to justify the investment. That traditional hydropower doesn't count toward the state targets remains a sore spot for many in hydropower-rich North Central Washington.
Applicant Whistling Ridge Energy Partners, LLC, Friends of the Columbia Gorge, Inc., Save Our Scenic Area and Seattle Audubon Society separately, and Skamania County and the Klickitat County Public Economic Development Authority jointly, have asked the Energy Facility Site Evaluation Council to reconsider its Oct. 6 recommendation.
Kittitas County commissioners voted unanimously Tuesday against an expansion of the existing wind-power overlay zone east of Kittitas. The motion, made by Commissioner Alan Crankovich, responded to a request from Columbia Plateau Energy Facility LLC to expand the zone by 5,760 acres to the west for a future wind farm project.
"In a nutshell, I don't think we need this comprehensive plan change right now ... There are no new circumstances that warrant comprehensive plan change," said Planning Commissioner Kim Green. Green said she felt adding to the overlay zone would be "overkill," stating she thinks "the value of wind, as of today for the Kittitas Valley, has been overstated."
The 15 turbines that the council recommended removing included seven that would have loomed over the community of Underwood, Wash., and eight of the 29 turbines that would be visible to motorists entering Hood River on I-84 westbound. ... the turbines in question would be "impermissibly intrusive into the scenic vista," and that there was no way to mitigate against those impacts.
"We're encouraged that the council was concerned about scenic impacts, but this decision does not go far enough," Baker said. "It would reduce the number of turbines but there would still be several turbines breaking the skyline with flashing lights and moving blades."
Wednesday's letter was signed by Seattle Audubon, Friends of the Columbia Gorge, Conservation Northwest, the American Bird Conservancy and the Gifford Pinchot Task Force. It said the Fish and Wildlife Service made "multiple factual errors" in its earlier finding. Among them: The agency implied that the owl documented in 2010 in the vicinity of the project was detected only three times.
The Washington State Energy Facility Site Evaluation Council (WA EFSEC) recently recommended approval, with conditions, of 35 turbines as part of the Whistling Ridge wind energy project. Fifty turbines were defined in the original plan submitted to the State. The final adjudicative order can be downloaded through the links at the bottom of the page. Of particular interest, readers are encouraged to reference the concurring opinion filed by the Council's chairman, James Luce, and included in the order. An excerpt of his letter is provided below.
Wind energy promoters and enablers are finally waking up to the possibility that the public knows there may be adverse effects from wind power. That puts them about 25 years behind the rest of the country, at least that part of the country that does not fall to its knees when the word "green" is attached to a concept, no matter how inaccurately.
Whitten says he doesn't care that Palouse Wind can now argue against his case in court or that his appeals have been combined. His challenge is the same. "I have a beef with the county," he says. But Whitman County planner Alan Thomson says the addition of Palouse Wind could be detrimental to Whitten's case.
But more than a year later, Seattle's numbers are lackluster. As of last week, only three homes had been retrofitted and just 14 new jobs have emerged from the program. Many of the jobs are administrative ..."The jobs haven't surfaced yet. It's been a very slow and tedious process. It's almost painful, the number of meetings people have gone to. Those are the people who got jobs. There's been no real investment for the broader public."
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.
At night and on weekends, when demand was low, the Bonneville Power Administration ordered wind farms to shut down, saying there was more electricity than the region needed or could export.
The Bonneville Power Administration (BPA) has curtailed wind electricity generation in the region by about 7 percent over the last seven weeks in an effort to balance the extra hydropower being generated from an unusually large amount of melting snowpack.