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Overgeneration Discussions Continue

by Staff
BPA Journal, January 2011

BPA is engaging the region in discussions about how to handle the occasional oversupply of power caused by high water. This effort responds to high Columbia River flows last June, when BPA and others took steps to avoid harming fish because of excess spill. BPA's goal is to have more solutions in place and functioning for the next spring runoff, beginning April 1.

BPA hosted a workshop in December to review suggestions from customers and others. For example, BPA is working with a regional Transmission Utilization Group to explore ways to increase usable intertie transmission capacity to California. The agency is also conferring with Columbia Basin irrigators on how they might time water withdrawals to utilize some excess power.

BPA also proposed to conduct environmental redispatch as a last resort when necessary to comply with the Clean Water Act and Endangered Species Act. Environmental redispatch would substitute free federal hydropower for other generation in BPA's balancing authority area. BPA will request comments in early 2011 on draft environmental redispatch business practices and a draft record of decision.

BPA also said it will not pay parties to replace their generation with free federal hydropower. While this is not an issue for thermal generators, which typically have an economic incentive to shut down in exchange for low-cost or free federal hydropower, wind projects that receive Production Tax Credits or Renewable Energy Credits might be financially affected. BPA is analyzing the scope of the potential financial impact of environmental redispatch on wind project owners and will share a draft, peer-reviewed analysis with interested parties in January.

BPA is establishing a mail list for customers and members of the public who want to follow the issue. Interested parties can sign up by e-mailing or by going to the Columbia River high water management page at

Overgeneration Discussions Continue
BPA Journal, January 2011

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