Library from Washington
The Northwest wind industry, which currently is able to generate more than 2,700 megawatts of electricity during peak winds, is expected to more than double or triple in size by 2016. But the explosive growth in wind power isn't based on forecasts of growing regional demand for power. The expansion is driven by federal incentives that offer generous tax credits or stimulus grants to wind-power producers. ...In addition, state laws in Washington, Oregon and California require utilities to generate or purchase an increasing amount of their power from renewable resources.
Rules allowing clusters of industrial-sized wind turbines a mile apart on rural lands in Kittitas County have cleared the first hurdle. The county Planning Commission Tuesday recommended approval of a proposed ordinance for the siting, construction and operation of commercial-sized wind turbine towers in limited numbers that are associated with a community wind energy system.
Most of the money is being spent on studies to find out how the turbines will affect the endangered marbled murrelet, a small seabird. Grays Harbor PUD has already spent $845,250 in pre-construction and decided not to authorize another $1.14 million. Likewise, the Clallam, Mason and Pacific County PUDs are reconsidering their role.
The Grays Harbor PUD won't move forward with a proposed wind farm in Pacific County, citing permitting costs and other risks. That leaves Energy Northwest and three PUDs in Clallam, Pacific and Mason counties to decide how to proceed with a plan to build 32 wind turbines on Radar Ridge near Naselle - without the project's largest investor.
Backers of putting Western Washington's first big wind farm on a ridge near Naselle are trying to keep the project from falling apart after the development's largest investor declined this week to sink more money into the environmentally contentious proposal. ...The utilities say they've shown that the chances of a marbled murrelet being hit by wind blade in any given year would be less than fifty-fifty. Environmental groups dispute that conclusion, and the wildlife service has demanded more environmental studies.
A Clallam County Public Utility District plan to join the Radar Ridge wind farm project in Pacific County is losing power as permit costs escalate. General Manager Doug Nass told the three PUD commissioners Monday that further involvement in the project is no guarantee.
The Kittitas Valley's latest wind farm is sprouting into the sky east of Ellensburg. The first section of turbine tower went up the week of April 5 at the Vantage Wind Power Project site, and the first tower was topped with a completed turbine assembly on April 16.
Renewable energy on the Pacific Northwest's electricity grid has increased substantially over the years, and this is leading to a number of problems. For the Pacific Northwest, renewable energy expansion truly means wind energy expansion because it is the closest to being market-competitive of all renewable energy sources. Wind power, like hydroelectric power, is clean (i.e., carbon-free in its production), and this remains a large part of policymakers' attraction to wind. While the negative aspects of wind power are apparent, they are often overlooked. Ever increasing wind generation will have a significant impact on the reliability and affordability of electricity in the Pacific Northwest that very well might outweigh any of the claimed environmental benefits. This consise report by the Cascade Policy Institute examines the costs and impacts of wind power integration in the Pacific Northwest.
The Department of Defense said today it has asked radar experts at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Lincoln Laboratory to evaluate whether the huge Shepherds Flat wind farm in north-central Oregon would interfere with signals from a radar station in Fossil if built. The study will take up to 60 days and extend past the long-planned May 1 groundbreaking date for the Shepherds Flat project, which at 338 turbines and 845 megawatts of capacity would be the largest wind farm in the nation and perhaps the world.
Terry Meyer, founder and owner of year-old Cascade Community Wind Co., said after the meeting that the change in moratorium boundaries won't mean much to firms like his. The most promising sites for larger wind turbine projects are on rural forestry or agricultural land. Commercial forestry land is mostly in more remote areas that are too far from power transmission systems to provide practical sites for turbines.
The Federal Aviation Administration, with backing from the Air Force, issued a "notice of presumed hazard" in March, barring construction of any towers above "0 feet." The company hasn't been able to resolve the issue, even with Oregon Sens. Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley trying to run interference. "We're just sitting here in no man's land," said Les Gelber, a Caithness Energy partner.
A potentially "catastrophic" federal moratorium on new wind farm construction is putting large planned projects in Wasco, Gilliam, Sherman and Morrow counties in Oregon and Klickitat County in Washington in jeopardy. "In the short term, for the companies who have been stopped, I'm very concerned," said Paul Woodin, executive director of The Dalles-based Community Renewable Energy Association. "For the long term, I've got to believe that rational thinking will take over."
Two appeals from Whitman County residents effectively stopped wind development in the county after commissioners created a commercial wind turbine ordinance in November. Carolyn Kiesz of Thornton and Roger Whitten of Oakesdale filed appeals in August, which refuted the findings of nonsignificance the county issued in regard to wind turbine construction.
Weiler also convinced wind companies to give his institute a total of $120,000 for raptor research. The Wildlife Department conducted the research, but the institute kept 10 percent, or $12,000, for managing the funds and paying invoices for equipment ordered by wildlife employees. The effect on birds and bats is one of the biggest environmental concerns about wind farms.
A state ethics board says former state wildlife biologist William Weiler used his government job to promise "special treatment" to wind energy corporations in exchange for donations to his nonprofit organization. The Washington State Executive Ethics Board said in a March 10 finding that there is reason to believe Weiler arranged habitat mitigation projects for wind developers in Klickitat County in exchange for donations to the Columbia Gorge Ecology Institute.
In a special session that begins today, Washington's legislature will consider limiting current tax exemptions to wind equipment owned by or generating power for in-state utilities. Washington state governor Chris Gregoire called the special session in an attempt to agree measures to address the state's $2.8 billion budget gap.
The 6-1 vote, taken late Tuesday, Feb. 23, with little public notice, is meant to give the council some time to review and perhaps stiffen the county's 2008 ordinance regulating wind power systems. If the council had not taken quick action by declaring an emergency, anyone who submitted a permit for a wind power project would have acquired the right to have that project evaluated under the 2008 land use rules.
Gov. Chris Gregoire has approved the Desert Claim wind project in Kittitas County, eight miles north of Ellensburg. Gregoire acted on a recommendation from a state energy facility siting council. Desert Claim, which becomes the fourth wind farm approved in Kittitas County, will have a capacity of 95 turbines across 5,200 acres.
A new transmission line proposed to run between two Eastern Washington substations will help carry locally generated energy, including wind power, to the grid. The Bonneville Power Administration is proposing to build a 40-mile, 500-kilovolt transmission line between its existing Lower Monumental Substation south of Kahlotus in Walla Walla County to its planned Central Ferry Substation in Garfield County.
Wind instruments were installed Thursday, Jan. 7, on the Bellingham waterfront to gauge the feasibility of installing power-generating turbines on the site. The $8,000 project is a partnership of the Port of Bellingham, Bellingham Technical College and Western Washington University.