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Economic and dam related articles

BPA and Wind Developers:
Federal Energy Ruling is Wrong for Our Region

by Scott Corwin
The Oregonian, December 21, 2011

No good deed goes unpunished. The Bonneville Power Administration should be feeling this after going to great lengths to meet the challenges of connecting the enormous expansion of variable wind power to its electrical system and patiently holding regional discussions to resolve lingering disputes. Then came the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission this month, overthrowing this work by asserting that it has the authority to nix BPA's approach on what to do with its own system when too much generation threatens stability.

The conflict arises when the variability of this large new wind fleet combines with spring runoff in the hydropower system to create more generation than can be used. In an electrical system, supply must be instantaneously balanced with demand or the results can be horrific. To maintain grid stability, BPA's interim policy sets out a series of measures that include curtailing non-hydro generation, including wind generation as a last resort at limited times when dams in the Columbia River system must generate power rather than spill more water over the dams. Spill is limited by laws to protect fish from harm caused by high gas levels that too much spill creates.

Despite receiving free hydropower, wind developers were unhappy to see production curtailed because they lose hefty state and federal production incentives when their turbines are not spinning. But, incentives aside, the bottom line is that there are some hours when there is more power supply than there is demand. Other generators, such as gas plants, voluntarily reduce their power production, save the fuel cost, and receive free or cheap excess hydropower instead to meet their needs.

. . .

Related Pages:
No Need to Rethink Salmon Plan That Pays Healthy Returns by Scott Corwin, Register-Guard, 9/10/11
Columbia Basin: Salmon, Science and the Law by Scott Corwin, The Oregonian, 10/15/9
Collaborating for Salmon by Scott Corwin & John Saven, The Oregonian, 8/31/9
Consider Harvest and Hatcheries by Scott Corwin, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, 2/9/6
Pursue Compromise for Salmon by Scott Corwin, The Oregonian, 4/15/4

Most NW Wind Energy Continues Uninterrupted by Staff, BPA Journal, 7/18/11
Spring Rise Ebbs in NW; Wind Farms at Full Output by Tim Fought, Seattle Times, 7/18/11
BPA Curtails Wind Production by 7 Percent by Iris Dimmic, Daily Record, 7/7/11

Scott Corwin is executive director of the Public Power Council representing consumer-owned utilities throughout the Northwest.
BPA and Wind Developers: Federal Energy Ruling is Wrong for Our Region <-- Full story at original site.
The Oregonian, December 21, 2011

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