Documents filed under Energy Policy from Washington
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.
This press release provided by the County Prosecutor's office of Kittitas County in Washington State discloses evidence of bias on the part of the Energy Facility Site Evaluation Council in its decision to recommend that Governor Christine Gregoire overrule the local authority and approve the Kittitas Valley Wind Power Project.
The November passage of Initiative 937 adds Washington to the states with renewable portfolio standards. Wind-powered generation is a resource of choice in meeting renewable standards, and it has been highly touted for its environmental benefits. Considered in isolation, the environmental benefits of a wind resource are undoubtedly warranted. However, it is misleading to consider wind on an isolated basis—that is, outside of the context of the full power-supply portfolio that is necessary to serve load. In the context of an integrated portfolio, much of the environmental benefit disappears and may even be non-existent as compared with other resource portfolio choices. In particular, a full assessment of the impact of wind resources on the environment necessitates a look at the energy consequences of adding wind-generation to an integrated portfolio in the context of meeting load. Accounting for energy, it is likely that there is no significant environmental difference between a resource portfolio adding wind generation and one adding high-efficiency combined-cycle gas turbines. It is also likely that the wind-based portfolio results in little reduction, if any, in the need for fossil fuels and therefore little reduction in the exposure to their price swings and environmental consequences. That is, the emissions and fossil-fuel impacts of a wind-based portfolio appear little better than a non-wind-based portfolio. Editor's Note: This paper makes a critically important point re. wind's purported environmental benefits, i.e. "...it is misleading to consider wind on an isolated basis—that is, outside of the context of the full power-supply portfolio that is necessary to serve load. In the context of an integrated portfolio, much of the environmental benefit disappears and may even be non-existent as compared with other resource portfolio choices." In short, wind's environmental benefits (if any) will be grid-specific depending on the emissions generated (if any) of the reliable generating source(s) required to back it up.
The Role of Wind Energy in a Power Supply Portfolio ....Wind is primarily an energy resource that makes relatively little contribution to meeting system peak loads. Even with large amounts of wind, the Northwest will still need to build other generating resources to meet growing peak load requirements.......But wind energy cannot provide reliable electric service on its own. When wind energy is added to a utility system, its natural variability and uncertainty is combined with the natural variability and uncertainty of loads. This increases the need for flexible resources such as hydro, gas-fired power plants, or dispatchable loads to maintain utility system balance and reliability across several different timescales. The demand for this flexibility increases with the amount of wind in the system.
Editor's Note Presented on October 20th during the 2006 Electric Market Forecasting Conference sponsored by EPIS, Inc. this addresses, in part, the issue of whether emissions are reduced with the addition of industrial wind energy. This is a large pdf file (8.55MB) and is available via the weblink below.
Recent demonstrations have targeted the four lower Snake River dams as unimportant and obsolete. This argument casually discards the fact that the dams generate enough electricity to energize a city the size of Seattle. At a time when concerns about climate change dominate headlines, our dams are emission and fuel free. Electric energy generated by the federal dams greatly reduces our dependence on imported oil and natural gas. Dams truly are our region’s home grown renewable energy resource.