Library from Washington
Since May 18, BPA has ordered wind generators to shut down several hours a day, usually in the low-power-demand nighttime hours. The result so far has been the loss of 74,114 megawatt hours of wind energy, or about 15% of what the wind farms might normally have generated.
The driver isn't need. The Northwest has plenty of power and most of it is already bona fide renewable. Wind power is here because state mandates force utilities to buy power they don't need and the federal government subsidizes producers' bottom lines. False incentives that encourage wind producers to keep building will exacerbate the region's glut of power production.
Tax breaks to encourage wind power are only justified -- if they're justified at all -- when renewable energy replaces electricity produced by a dirtier source. ...With so much water in the rivers, BPA's only alternative would have been to curtail hydroelectric production to make room on the transmission system for wind power.
Beginning next year, Clark Public Utilities will have to obtain at least 3 percent of its electricity from renewable sources - and hydropower doesn't count. ...If the BPA orders wind generators offline once those rules go into effect, it's possible that those limits could keep some utilities from meeting quotas.
For five hours Wednesday the Pacific Northwest was running green, almost all of its electricity coming from hydroelectric dams ...But it could also be a blow to the region's burgeoning wind industry. The Bonneville Power Administration followed through on a plan to shut down most of the region's power generation except that from dams now running at full capacity.
The Bonneville Power Administration has more than enough electricity during a cold, wet spring that has created a big surge in river flows where hydroelectric dams are located. The agency responded by announcing its intentions to curtail wind power until the grid has more capacity, in a move likely to cost the industry millions of dollars.
Technologies once seen as squeaky clean are facing surprising resistance now that they have become possible from both engineering and financial perspectives, according to the Daily News.
The Whatcom County Council will likely vote to extend the emergency moratorium to delay the installation of wind turbines near the Squalicum Mountain community Tuesday, April 26, County Councilman Ken Mann said. This would be the fourth time the council has voted to delay the installation of wind turbines in Whatcom County.
As the wind industry expands, the BPA has found it more difficult to transmit all that power and still meet other responsibilities, which include selling hydro power outside the region and spilling water over dams to aid the passage of migrating salmon.
The project, developed by Horizon Wind Energy, is selling power on the region's daily, "spot" market when the right prices and wind speed make it economically feasible to do so. If the wind speed is not adequate and the price buyers are willing to pay is not adequate, the blades don't turn.
If the region's grid is carrying high power output from wind generators at a time when the river flow is extremely high, the combination of wind power and hydropower would exceed the demand for electricity, in expected scenarios. BPA says in those circumstances, it would have to curtail wind generation or increase water flows over hydro dam spillways, bypassing dam generators.
Kittitas County commissioners are opposed to a state agency taking over the permitting process for community wind power systems from local city or county governments. Yet businesses in the community wind power industry say a proposal now before state legislators doesn't take away any authority from local governments to review land-use impacts from smaller wind projects.
Although the agency is attempting to limit the environmental impact, no matter where the line is built somebody will be unhappy about what it will do to the scenery. "This will sure ruin the place," Fletcher said.
The first target is a year away, and no one is clear how to meet it, or even to measure progress. The legislature could tweak the 2006 law that created the requirement, but previous attempts have hit political walls.
"One of the big challenges of wind power is it is intermittent," said Rob Newsom, a PNNL scientist. "We're at the mercy of Mother Nature. Wind doesn't always blow when we want it." That can make adding wind power to the grid problematic, because the grid requires a steady power load. ..."We worried about if speed shifts quickly. An hour off in a forecast can make a big difference."
The head of Bonneville Power Administration told local utilities Tuesday that the agency proposes keeping rate increases lower than projected for the next two years, but ratepayers will get less certainty in return. ...Franklin PUD and other smaller utilities in the region said their increases will not be as large because they don't have the same renewable energy requirements as bigger utilities.
The investigation was sparked by complaints in February by Klickitat County officials, who relied on Weiler to help wind farm developers find ways to compensate for the unavoidable environmental toll of building roads, pouring cement and erecting towers.
The wind boom has contributed to a shortage of substations and transmission lines to carry electricity from remote, sparsely populated areas to cities where the customers are. The BPA is building or planning to build four separate 500-kV transmission lines in Washington to handle the load, including a controversial line that would cross Clark and Cowlitz counties.
The County Council originally voted 6-1 to approve the emergency moratorium in late February, after Squalicum Mountain property owners expressed concern over preliminary plans for a large commercial wind project nearby. The moratorium was extended another six months in a 4-3 vote in April.
The environmental group Friends of the Columbia Gorge has challenged the zoning, saying it's no longer a "valid gauge" of the cumulative impact of wind energy in Klickitat County. "Wind energy facilities have been developed in Klickitat County at a rate roughly seven times as fast as projected, with no end in sight," wrote Nathan Baker, staff attorney for Friends.