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Columbia River PUD Pitches Wind Power

by Venice Buhain
Longview, WA, The Daily News, February 2, 2005

Customers of the Columbia River PUD may now go green.

The PUD, which serves Columbia County from the eastern part of Rainier to Scappoose, now gives ratepayers an option to buy power from wind generator farms in Eastern Oregon.

The PUD's Choice Energy program will cost a little more green to go green, though. Customers may buy a 100 kWh "block" of power for $2 per month, or they may choose to convert all their electricity purchases from a wind farm for an additional 1.5 cents per kilowatt-hour on top of their current rate. The regular rate for households is about 5.5 cents per kilowatt-hour.

"They can go 100 percent green, or they can feel good and buy one or two 'blocks,' " PUD general manager Kevin Owens said.

Owens said a customer survey showed that 70 percent of customers wanted the option to buy electricity from renewable energy resources. So far, about 30 customers have signed up. Half opted to get all their electricity from wind power.

"We were surprised that there would be so many people going 100 percent green," Owens said.

If an average household, which uses about 1,000 kilowatt-hours, were to convert totally, it would add $15 to $20 to the cost of the power bill, he said.

The PUD is purchasing blocks of wind electricity in blocks of one-tenth of a megawatt --- or 100,000 kilowatts --- from the Bonneville Power Administration, which buys it from the Klondike, Stateline and Condon wind farms.

Owens said the PUD has the option of buying more if the demand is high enough.

In Cowlitz County, about 61 customers have signed up for the Cowlitz PUD's Renewable Resource Energy program, spokesman Dave Andrew said. Those customers pay $2 for every block of 100 kWhs that they choose to purchase, he said.

The customers' money goes toward a foundation that invests in renewable energy, he said. Cowlitz PUD also purchases 2 megawatts of wind power, he said.

Washington law requires PUDs to give customers the option of buying renewable energy, he said.

Oregon has the capacity for 260 megawatts of wind-generated power, one of the fastest growing sources of energy in the world, said Carel DeWinkel of the Oregon Department of Energy.

Venice Buhain
Columbia River PUD Pitches Wind Power
The Daily News, February 2, 2005

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