Windpower Reality, Wind Farms Angry and now demanding more of the public

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.

Here’s the story

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.. 




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4 Responses to Windpower Reality, Wind Farms Angry and now demanding more of the public

  1. quinnf says:


    That’s the problem with wind energy. It’s not there all the time; you can’t depend on it. The Grid can use it only when it’s available, and when it’s needed. The rest of the time it’s idle unless the wind aficianados can find an alternative use for their surplus production. Not a good investment unless some thought has been put into what to do in times like you cite, hence a perfect opportunity for big government to blindly go where no investor in his right mind would go, because they don’t see it as THEIR money.

    By the way, you know we’re coming for your water next!

    • George B. says:

      Excellent comments Q, but we might add, government is little more than the politicians at the helm at any given moment, and like our Washington Govenor, they will promote what they think will keep them or their party in power, no matter what..

  2. Bill Knighton says:

    There’s a common fault to many of these sorts or problems. Representative democracy sucks. Every one of them in the world is headed towards disaster like an unnaturally fire suppressed forest. All that garbage law, garbage investment and garbage debt is going to burn. It’s not just the us. The part about shutting down the power in California is the answer. We need real, direct democracy. Your dollar, your vote = your consequences, not someone else’s. Say you have 10 percent of your income you have to spend in tax. You do it online and check away at your causes until you’re at $0 owed. Vote weekly online. consequences if you don’t vote for something or do. Vote against all the power projects and exploration and you pay $2 per kwhr. same for schools. Will we have these useless hundred thousand dollar sociologist professors if people have to choose between salaries they can never have for themselves and what they actually want from government? Such a system would tell us exactly what citizens want and it would never lie.

  3. Bill knighton says:

    I was thinking about the oversupply in the northwest and had a minor numerical revelation, for me. For a lot of others it’s probably been obvious for a while. I knew all along that you could only get a fraction of grid demand covered with low capacity factor renewables without a major storage breakthrough. A bug going around congress right now is trying to force a 25% renewable mandate on American utilities by 2025, I think it was. It only now occurred to me that there is a rigid, easy to follow rule dictated by reality. Without storage, you cannot increase the renewable content of your energy portfolio above the capacity factor of your technology. The German pv fleet is at a tad under 10% capacity factor. They have only 1500 premium solar hours per year. Were they to install a pv capacity of infinity they could still not get above 10% renewable, from solar at least. It’s not an interesting observation to me other than it offers a precise number as the upper limit.
    I’ve looked at capacity factors of various us renewable installations where published and 15-25% is pretty common.
    It is grimly amusing to notice the current proposal is based on carefully qualified credits obtained by generating renewable energy. You need 25%. If you generate on Indian land you get 2x.

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