Articles from Washington

Up in the AIR

John Lodahl held the torpedo-like instrument steady while Max Holder calibrated it from inside a metal-skinned microwave station on this cold, windswept hill north of Sunnyside. Satisfied with the readings, Lodahl climbed down from the top of the 30-foot tower on a recent morning, marking the end of a tour that has taken the pair from Astoria, Ore., at the mouth of the Columbia River, to the Horse Heaven Hills in Benton County over the past five weeks.
2 Oct 2009

State lands commissioner wants to branch out to wind, biomass energy

Biomass growing on 2.1 million acres of state forests could be burned to generate electricity or converted to a liquid fuel called methanol, he said. Further, he endorsed the careful expansion of the state's burgeoning wind energy business to the west side of the Cascades - provided the massive towers won't imperil wildlife. ...Wind is not the only renewable energy resource on state lands, he said. Goldmark will sort through 30 proposals for two biomass pilot projects
18 Sep 2009

BPA hopes meter will predict wind

Wind energy and hydropower have a see-saw-like relationship: When one goes up the other goes down. But the Bonneville Power Administration is hoping a small device that looks like a model rocket and weighs a few pounds can help ease the tricky synergy. BPA on Wednesday installed an anemometer to help the power-marketing agency better forecast oncoming wind at the Horse Heaven substation just west of Paterson.
17 Sep 2009

State tables idea of wind farm lease in spotted owl habitat

The Washington Department of Natural Resources is no longer considering leasing 2,560 acres of state trust land to SDS Lumber Co. for possible future expansion of the proposed Whistling Ridge Energy Project in Skamania County. A notice released by the DNR's Ellensburg office on Aug. 10 says the agency "is no longer considering a lease" but could reconsider the option at some future date. "The reason it was withdrawn was because of issues with endangered species," DNR spokesman Aaron Toso said Friday.
22 Aug 2009

BPA to install tools to better track wind

Today the Bonneville Power Administration will install the first of fourteen anemometers to better track where and how hard the wind is blowing. The BPA, which markets power from the Northwest's network of federal hydroelectric dams, has struggled to incorporate increasing amounts of variable wind energy into the region's electric grid.
19 Aug 2009

Ferruginous hawks in decline

Jason Lowe, a biologist with the Bureau of Land Management's Eastern Washington office in Spokane, ...conducted two field surveys this spring and summer, which confirmed what he feared: The hawks are fewer and farther between. Where there were 17 nesting pairs in 1987 in the Juniper Dunes area of Franklin County, only four were spotted last year and just one this year. ...Wind farms are proliferating in Southeast Washington and Northeast Oregon, which is a concern, he said. "Information is not complete, but there have been reports of hawks being hit by the (rotating windmill) blades," he said. While ferruginous hawks are unlikely to nest on ridges where windmills are located, they typically forage for food over a 17-mile radius, and that can include wind farms.
16 Aug 2009

Green power collides with Endangered Species Act

Green power, green jobs, renewable energy collide with the Endangered Species Act in a proposed wind farm in Southwest Washington. The project calling for between 48-60 megawatts of power is proposed for 3,359 acres of Washington Department of Natural Resources land northwest of Naselle, Washington. ...The DNR has the power to stop the project if it deems the project endangers Murrelets.
10 Aug 2009

Cap-and-trade schemes could hurt families and send jobs overseas

Cap-and-trade schemes could hurt families and send jobs overseas The recently passed U.S. House bill to create a cap-and-trade system to tackle greenhouse-gas emissions threatens to hurt families and send jobs out of the country, argues Washington state Rep. Shelly Short, R-Addy. In Washington state, the definition of 'green jobs' is ill defined.
6 Aug 2009

When it comes to wind turbines and birds, the interests of both can be protected

With frequent ferocity, The Columbian has expressed editorial support for both: -- Wind energy as an alternative energy source. -- The Endangered Species Act. But what happens when those two advocacies collide, when wind turbines kill birds, especially birds of a threatened species? ...If forced into a corner of mandatory choice, we suspect the proper view would be to support the ESA and the birds, for one simple reason: Extinction is precisely that, irreversible.
5 Aug 2009

Wildlife hinders wind farm strategy; Turbines not the obvious "winner" state initially thought

Today DNR has 24 active wind power leases in various stages. Five wind farms with 65 turbines operate on state trust land, all in Eastern Washington. The leases yield $670,000 a year. However, the DNR failed to consider whether allowing wind turbines on state land might conflict with the compact the state made with the federal government in 1997 when it promised to manage its land in a way that would minimize harm to threatened and endangered species. And Sutherland didn't foresee that some uses might not be compatible with the giant spinning turbine blades that feed renewable energy into the power grid.
1 Aug 2009

BPA sets rules to deal with "explosive" power growth

The Bonneville Power Administration in the Pacific Northwest has run smack into an issue that may well be repeated elsewhere as wind power gains a larger share of the electric power generation mix. The issue is wind integration and, more to the point, how to manage operational and cost allocation issues that arise as wind power projects come into service. It also touches on public perceptions about wind and what role it can and can't play in meeting electricity demand.
31 Jul 2009

Proposed wind project could imperil murrelet

A proposal by an Eastern Washington utility consortium to build the state's first coastal wind farm by 2011 has run smack up against the habitat requirements of a threatened seabird. Energy Northwest, based in the Tri-Cities, has signed a lease with the Washington Department of Natural Resources to build a wind farm on 3,359 acres of state trust land near Naselle, in Pacific County.
27 Jul 2009

Plan to block turbines up in the air

A proposal to create a 200,000-acre, scenic-protection area to keep out most commercial wind turbines created so much public interest that planning commissioners had to cut their Thursday meeting short, with the promise to continue the public testimony at their next hearing. At the heart of the issue is an amendment to the Umatilla County Comprehensive Plan proposed by Blue Mountain Alliance.
26 Jul 2009

Change in the wind; The ebbs and flows of wind power stress the Northwest power grid

In the space of one hour last month, electricity generated at wind farms in the eastern end of the Columbia River Gorge shot up by 1,000 megawatts -- enough to power some 680,000 homes. Less than an hour later, it plummeted almost as much. In coping with the variations, the BPA has at times adjusted flows through dams at rates that exceeded guidelines established to protect fish. "It is stressful. You have the threat of fish issues on one hand you are trying to prevent, and at the same time you're trying to meet load," she said. The events of June 4 and 5 highlight the challenge facing the agency
26 Jul 2009

Washington wind power blowing south

A Washington wind farm that its developer calls “one of the premier wind sites in the Pacific Northwest” has been sold to a group of California utilities. ...Why is California buying made-in-Washington wind power? California has much higher electricity rates than Washington, so the wind power premium is proportionately cheaper.
22 Jul 2009

Wind power throws a curve at the BPA

Wind-powered generators dominate the landscape along the eastern Oregon reaches of the Columbia River. Managing their intermittent power output has become a major issue for the Bonneville Power Administration. ...By October, the agency intends to establish a system to knock wind farms off its transmission grid when they are operating so far outside their scheduled output that it threatens to exhaust the agency's hydro reserves.
21 Jul 2009

Desert Claim wind farm to deliberation; State council hears support, opposition

A state energy council will soon begin deliberations on whether to recommend approval of the proposed Desert Claim Wind Power Project now that formal hearings on the wind farm concluded Monday in Ellensburg. Members of the state Energy Facility Site Evaluation Council, or EFSEC, will take with them two main messages heard Monday at an evening hearing from citizens, property owners and group representatives.
16 Jul 2009

Kittitas County residents weigh rewards vs. hazards

With what brought them together blowing strongly outside, Kittitas County residents had one last chance Monday to public express their views on the proposed Desert Claim wind farm, northwest of here. While the wind blew in one direction throughout a hearing attended by more than 60 people at the Hal Holmes Center, the feelings of residents went both ways.
14 Jul 2009
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