Articles from Washington
Growth in renewable energy threatens to cripple the northwest's power grid. Industry analysts say growth in wind power is stressing the system. The constant on and off of wind power stresses the system.
Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) peddled a Democratic energy bill in her party's radio address Saturday despite the bill stalling over a dispute on renewable energy this week.
People who want a 360-square-mile expansion of a proposed east-county wind farm zone made their point Monday that the zone will only be effective if it is expanded along the east-west high-voltage power-line corridor across the county. Their comments came during a hearing examining recommended changes in the county's development code, which includes zoning designations and related rules. Some are opposed to expanding the county-proposed wind farm zone saying it takes in rural residential homes and future home sites. County commissioners earlier proposed establishing a 500-square-mile zone on the county's east end, along the Columbia River, that would be pre-identified as an area compatible for wind farm development.
A tax break that has helped spur the development of windmill farms in Washington state could be extended for five years as part of the new Senate energy bill, Sen. Maria Cantwell said Wednesday. But the ability to carry that power from turbines in some of the wind-swept regions of the Northwest to the customers who need it isn't part of the proposal at this time.
Officials of an international wind-energy company won't share details just yet of their proposed wind farm east of Ellensburg, but said they are "very interested" in a Kittitas County plan to create a zone on the county's east end designated as compatible for wind farm development. Michael Logsdon, director of business development for Invenergy Wind LLC in the Pacific Northwest, earlier this week said he may be able to announce more about the project once the county approves the new zone. Chicago-based Invenergy has been studying the site more than 20 miles east of Ellensburg since fall 2004. Logsdon acknowledged the site is within the proposed zone. "The county is considering to rezone the area to allow wind farms through a more streamlined process," said Logsdon. "We're very interested in the zone and are waiting for the outcome." County planning officials, who met with Invenergy representatives May 21, said the company is looking at a wind farm with about 55 turbines.
As the Oregon Renewable Energy Act made its way through the Legislature last month, lawmakers emphasized its potential to create homegrown, clean sources of electricity. Yet, even as Gov. Ted Kulongoski signed the bill into law Wednesday, the emerging reality defied the vision of a lone state moving toward energy self-sufficiency. Oregon wind farms, expected to dominate the state's renewable power expansion, are in the sights of utilities throughout the West. Electricity buyers in California are showing interest in power generated by a wind farm under construction in Sherman County, and already California utilities have snagged power from a Washington project. And the electricity from a project under development in Oregon's Union County is headed for Idaho.
Kittitas County may be on a collision course with a state council order regarding the county's process that reviews and permits wind farms. County officials continue to require the Desert Claim Wind Power Project to file a complete application with the county for a 90-turbine wind farm despite a May 8 order by the state Energy Facility Site Evaluation Council that ruled that filing an application with the county is not necessary. "The county maintains that EFSEC does not have the legal authority to rule that the county's rules and regulations can be ignored," said Darryl Piercy, director of the county Community Development Services Department.
I encourage the governor to just say "no" to this steamrolling of our duly elected county officials and let all who would have business in this state and county abide by the democratic process. If those that want winds farms in this area don't like the ruling of the county commissions, throw them out of office through the democratic process. Don't be a party to perpetrating this dangerous precedent upon the citizens of this state by nullifying our most sacred treasure: our right to vote and to have our vote count.
So you take a technology (commercial wind power generation) that generates electricity intermittently/inefficiently, and cannot be stored for use when needed. Next you force consumers to buy it (with the assistance of their tax dollars). Because there is still not enough money there to make it economically viable, due to added grid integration costs, you raise consumer power rates. AND then, after creating this mandated over-priced market for your product, you inform everyone of the need to spend billions of dollars more to transport the product to the consumers. Yeah, I would buy some lobbyists too. The final insult... ...is that the product being force-fed to everyone will not reduce green house gas emissions or reduce dependence on foreign oil. In fact, in some places this has been tried, it has increased it.
The proposed Desert Claim Wind Power Project does not have to seek approval from the Kittitas County government, a state council decided Tuesday. By a vote of 5-1, the state Energy Facility Site Evaluation Council decided the project does not have to file an application with the county because of the precedent set by an earlier EFSEC decision regarding the separate Kittitas Valley Wind Power Project, according to council chairman Jim Luce.
Gov. Chris Gregoire, starting Wednesday, has 60 days to make a final decision on whether to approve the 65-turbine Kittitas Valley Wind Power Project, a wind farm proposed for 12 miles northwest of Ellensburg. The governor's office at 3 p.m. Wednesday received formal documents from the state Energy Facility Site Evaluation Council that recommended approval of the $150 million project planned by Houston-based Horizon Wind Energy for ridge tops on both sides of state Highway 97.
UPC Wind filed a site certification application with the Oregon Energy and Facility Siting Council (EFSC) Wednesday to build a 60- megawatt wind farm on Sevenmile Hill west of The Dalles.
A survey commissioned by a wind-power development company indicates 78 percent of 300 Kittitas County voters responding to the poll say they support the development of wind farms within the county. French-owned EnXco USA Inc. issued the results of the survey Thursday as the state Energy Facility Site Evaluation Council continues to consider approving EnXco's proposed Desert Claim Wind Power Project, a 90-turbine, 180-megawatt wind farm planned for eight miles north of Ellensburg.
The state Energy Facility Site Evaluation Council will meet 1:30 p.m. Tuesday in Olympia to decide whether the Desert Claim Wind Power Project must first come before Kittitas County officials for review before it can be considered by the state council.
Kittitas County commissioners believe a state council erred on March 27 in recommending approval of the Kittitas Valley Wind Power Project and claims the action violates state law by overruling the county's previous denial of the 65-turbine project. Commissioners on Monday directed Deputy Prosecutor Jim Hurson to file a petition with the state Energy Facility Site Evaluation Council calling on the seven-member council to reconsider its 6-1 vote on the wind farm planned for 12 miles northwest of Ellensburg on ridges on both sides of U.S. Highway 97.
As the U.S. Supreme Court took decisive action Monday on the matter of planet-warming emissions, a proposed law in Washington to reduce carbon dioxide pollution continued to creep along, scarred and slightly mangled from multiple revisions. In its original form, the bill would have set state goals for cutting greenhouse gases, created limits for how much carbon dioxide new power plants could release, created a state climate office and required other actions to reduce pollution that's contributing to climate change. Since then, the legislation has morphed into a Franken-bill with new rules tacked onto it and major rewrites. It was then patched together into something approximating its original form and on Monday, it was tacked onto another piece of legislation to help ensure its survival. "Trying to figure out how to stop global warming is complex," said Rep. Hans Dunshee, D-Snohomish. "We know it's a problem. How do we deal with it? There are various schools of thought."
A state agency has recommended approval for construction of a wind farm 12 miles northwest of Ellensburg, overriding earlier rejections made by county officials. The decision of the state's Energy Facility Site Evaluation Council brings Horizon Wind Energy, the project's developer, closer to victory in a five-year battle with Kittitas County citizens and officials who argue the Kittitas Valley Wind Power Project has negative environmental and visual impacts on neighboring residential areas.
Fifty additional wind turbines will join the 78 now being built in northeast Columbia County. The new project will be known as Marengo Project Phase II, and construction may begin in June, Columbia County Planner Clark Posey said this morning. Like the Marengo I project, the new phase will be built by Blue Sky Wind LLC, an affiliate of Renewable Energy Systems, Ltd. The 90 megawatts of electricity anticipated from Phase II will be transmitted over lines owned by PacifiCorp, Posey said. Puget Sound Energy owns 83 turbines capable of generating150 megawatts of electricity. That project, the Hopkins Ridge Project, was completed at the end of 2005. Renewable Energy Systems also developed the Hopkins Ridge Project. When the Marengo II project is complete, there will be 211 wind turbines in Columbia County. A public information meeting is set for 7 p.m. April 11 at the Seneca Activity Center, Posey said.
Dying is easy, they say in show business. Comedy is hard. Try reconfiguring an electricity generation and transmission system based largely on hydropower so as to accommodate wind power. Now that's hard.
Wind energy will play a growing role in meeting the rising power needs of the Northwest, but it isn't controllable and it needs total backup by traditional sources such as hydroelectric dams, according to a report released Wednesday by energy specialists. The six-month study looked at how to integrate wind power into the region's power system. While wind energy sounds attractive, it can be fickle, the specialists said. Sometimes it blows, sometimes it doesn't. And while wind is free, they said getting its energy from a rural wind farm to an urban wall socket isn't.