Here’s a story worth reading, it will likely further divide our nation…
Lately though, electricity, not recreation, has become the big-ticket wind client in the Columbia Gorge. Wind turbines have sprung up all over the blustery hilltops in eastern Washington and Oregon, an area soon to become home to the largest wind farm in the world, developed for customers of Southern California Edison. Indeed, half the massive new wind power generated in the Pacific Northwest goes down the grid to California.
For the last three weeks, however, many of the wind farms have been ordered to shut down their generation for several hours a day — victims of an unusual surplus of hydroelectric power that has confounded regional electricity operators and infuriated renewable energy advocates who have worked so hard to develop the region’s wind bonanza.
The problem is an unexpected collision between two of the Northwest’s most treasured environmental assets, wind power and endangered salmon. Spring flows on the Columbia are so high that power system operators say they cannot dial back hydroelectric generators without harming the small juvenile fish now making their way down the river in their spring migration to the sea. With the turbines generating so much electricity, there is much less room on the grid for wind power.
“We’ve now got a situation where we’re protecting our customers and we’re protecting fish, but obviously the wind community is very upset about it,” said Elliot Mainzer, executive vice president for corporate strategy at the Bonneville Power Administration, the federal power marketing authority that operates the massive hydropower dams on the Columbia River.
Wind operators say the cutbacks are costing them millions of dollars in broken contracts and lost tax and energy credits. On Monday, five wind companies filed a claim with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, alleging that Bonneville is using its transmission market power to curtail competing generators and protect its own customers.
Some of the leading conservation groups working to restore salmon are suspicious of Bonneville’s motives.
“We think Bonneville is using salmon protection as an excuse for a policy they are implementing for other reasons, namely their desire to have hydroelectricity filling the transmission lines, more than wind energy,” said Pat Ford, executive director of the Save Our Wild Salmon Coalition.
Bonneville has historically been a major supplier of power across the Northwest and down to California. One of the reasons wind power has taken off in the region is the unique ability of BPA’s hydropower — which can be ramped up or scaled back as quickly as opening the spillways on the dams — to act as a balance to the highly unpredictable flows of wind power, dependent on weather, making sure a steady supply of power is flowing through the grid.
The power authority is now carrying 3,500 megawatts of wind-generated power through its transmission lines, more than half of it under contract to California utilities to comply with the state’s tough new alternative energy portfolio requirements. An additional 3,000 to 4,000 megawatts of wind energy capability is scheduled to be installed over the next decade.
Seems to me the answer is for California to shut down the energy companies, they’re out of compliance! So turn out the lights California!
The wind farms have been given every kind of subsidy and tax break, and now they demand priority in a conduit they don’t own.
Imagine a tomato farmer building a huge farm with green houses and never questioning the need to arrange a way to take his seasonal crop to the market place. Imagine him squealing like a thoughtless pig when the truck were not there to haul his crop.
there are a lot of technical people who question if the present crop of wind turbines will ever produce a return on investment to humanity, but that really isn’t even a consideration to the faith based movement that forces the tax payer to invest.
History will tell the story, and our grandchildren will ask… “What the hell were you all thinking?” Our Govenor hold services for the Wind faithful, it’s been worth so many unenformed votes for her party.
Meanwhile, there’s been huge investments in Solar PV, have you EVER seen an audit of the claimed electrical generating capacity and the actuals? Of course not.. this is a faith based movement, there is no need to validate more than your forced contribution to the effort. If subsidies are involved, the public should have access to the installed cost per KWH, and the Monthly production figures, they also need access to the efforts and expenses required when AE falls short of delivering on their contracts. If it’s all private investment, then who should care?
Point me to the hard data..