Articles filed under Energy Policy from Oregon
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.
"While we understand the board had a difficult decision to make, we are disappointed in the outcomes and the process," she said. "The impacts of the code amendment will vary from project to project but overall I can anticipate less economic development in the county from renewable energy development."
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.
Oregon's practice of channeling ever higher sums of taxpayer dollars into big wind farms and other green energy projects appears to be coming to an end in favor of thriftier and more targeted conservation incentives.
We have begun to pay developers to build generation irrespective of an electrical need for the generation. This only worsens the electric generation imbalance ...replacing wind generation with hydropower, while keeping the power system in balance, does not keep the financial incentives in balance.
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.
BPA will likely be tied up in court over wind power -- a bad outcome when we need more momentum for renewable energy development. We need a fresh look by our political leadership at federal and state incentives that got all the wind developments here in the first place -- production tax credits and renewable energy credits can account for as much as 50 percent of a wind farm's revenues.
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.
Even the lower end of the range -- which assumes no development for California -- is a substantial amount of power, and would exacerbate transmission issues and volatility in wholesale power prices. Wind development has already outstripped growth in regional demand. And an already clogged transmission system means the energy generated can't always be exported.
The BPA, which operates 75 percent of the high-voltage transmission grid in the region, is responsible for balancing the minute-to-minute variations in supply and demand on the grid. But it says there's only so much [wind energy] it can absorb before those reserves start to compromise regular operations.
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.
"All this makes this whole situation so gray. And if you're a business trying to decide whether you should invest half a billion dollars in a wind farm in Oregon or Washington, or Montana for that matter, your financial folks are going to be pretty scared," said John Audley, deputy director of the Renewable Northwest Project.
What's the attraction of these Rube Goldberg power networks, and why are they preferred over reliable and proven energy sources? The answer is simple, really. They are "renewable." Never mind that they require huge subsidies from customers and the federal and state governments. And never mind that when the wind isn't blowing or the sun isn't shining, they are little more than oversized lawn ornaments.
Customers of Pacific Power will see their electric rates spike 14.5 percent in January. The increase comes in a one-two punch: an 8.4 percent general rate increase state utility regulators approved Friday, and a 6.1 percent increase for increased power costs they are expected to approve Dec. 28. Both take effect Jan. 1. ...The biggest factor driving the increases: renewable power.
"California is a very big variable," said Elliot Mainzer, who is Bonneville Power Administration's guru on how to balance future energy and environmental needs here in the Northwest. When asked if he thought California was carrying its weight as far as managing those type of issues, he said "I would like to see California pay a little bit more attention to our issues, quite frankly."
The countywide vote on wind power is advisory only. Authority over large energy projects actually rests with state government in Oregon and Washington. A spokeswoman for Oregon's permitting agency says the election outcome will be treated like a public comment. Texas-based Horizon Wind Energy has bankrolled a vigorous "yes" campaign.
The same storms also brought wind. Bonneville has added 5,000 megawatts of wind power in the last few years, and it is mostly concentrated in the Columbia River Gorge in what is known as the "wind ghetto." As a result, at any given moment, almost all of the wind machines in Bonneville's territory are either running or not running. In June, they were running.
When the wind blows harder than forecast, they can't bypass the dam turbines to lower hydro generation, because dumping too much water over the spillways harms fish. So the other option is to cut generation at the wind farms. Too many curtailments, however, undermines the economics of wind, not only because turbines generate less power to sell but because valuable tax and renewable energy credits are only generated when their blades are spinning.