Articles filed under Impact on Economy from Washington
On the plus side, the $130 million investment means the PUD satisfies state renewable energy requirements through 2027 under current law. But there’s the tiny matter of wind farms running a $1 million-per-month loss, with no profits projected anytime soon, thanks to a depressed market for the power. It’s like owning a rental home in an area with too many rentals and not enough renters and having to lease for a price that doesn’t cover your costs.
Over the last several years the Pacific Northwest spent about $5 billion and impacted over 50,000 acres of pristine public land for the privilege of throwing away 9 billion kWhrs of carbon-free energy every year. Just so we can meet an arbitrary state mandate, claim we’re green, and make a few folks lots of money in tax credits, the cost of which gets passed onto the rate-payers and tax-payers.
The region now has a wind power capacity, on paper, of 4,500 megawatts. That is certainly a lot. The law requires large utilities to obtain 15 percent renewables by 2020. All this windy carbonless renewability raises some reasonable questions, such as: How much? Who pays? Is there a better way? Are we actually reducing our carbon footprint, or are we covering Eastern Washington with windmills and raising our electric rates for not much environmental gain? I would like to know.
Californians don't want Washington state's electricity as much as they used to. In 2011, the California Legislature passed laws that encourage utilities to generate most of their renewable power from within the state. That left up to $5 billion worth of proposed projects for Washington and Oregon suddenly without investors. ...The price of natural gas has been low, making renewable energy such as solar and wind less attractive.
"Balance is critical, and that is really where our focus is. And that's to produce as clean a power as we can, and to keep our customer bills affordable," said Grant Ringel, a spokesman for PSE told the Los Angeles Times.
Snohomish County PUD officials estimate that acquiring renewables ahead of need - just to comply with the law - could cost its ratepayers between $20 million to $30 million by 2020 if additional growth doesn't come to justify the investment. That traditional hydropower doesn't count toward the state targets remains a sore spot for many in hydropower-rich North Central Washington.
The head of Bonneville Power Administration told local utilities Tuesday that the agency proposes keeping rate increases lower than projected for the next two years, but ratepayers will get less certainty in return. ...Franklin PUD and other smaller utilities in the region said their increases will not be as large because they don't have the same renewable energy requirements as bigger utilities.
A series of factors -- including increasing demand for wind farms, rising costs for materials and the weakening U.S. dollar -- have driven up construction prices. At the same time, Northwest dams don't have enough remaining flexibility to supplement and smooth the up and down generation patterns of new wind farms.