Oregon’s Bonneville Power Administration has filed a request to curtail wind generators without payment when there is surplus power on the grid from hydro and wind, according to a report by Mark Ohrenschall at Energy Prospects.
The newly announced plan is proving controversial with wind developers, unsurprisingly. A New York Times article last month estimated that wind generators could lose as much as $50 million per year under worst-case conditions of excess generation and limited transmission capacity to export power out of the region.
Wind farm developer Iberdrola Renewables wrote that the status of wind developers “as relative newcomers to the region should not deprive them of all the rights embedded in law, policy and contracts when difficulties loom.”
“All the region’s interests and stakeholders should do more than cast a wary eye on Bonneville’s proposals in this proceeding — they should collectively repudiate this arbitrary, discriminatory, and illegal proposal,” Iberdrola said.
The Northwest & Intermountain Power Producers Coalition called the draft ROD “an avoidable, and presumably inadvertent, instance of blaming the victim.”
Numerous commenters said the policy would hinder regional wind development and lead to problems financing projects and achieving renewables portfolio standards. From this perspective, the policy also would conflict with federal and other policies encouraging new renewables, which BPA is obliged to follow.
BPA has had to shut down wind farms several times (most recently during a storm in June) as there was too much energy on the grid due to high river levels and high winds combined with low demand. Electricity has to be used immediately, and when there is more being put on the grid than is being taken off and used, it creates a problem.
Although extremely uneconomical for wind developers, it is easier to shut down a wind farm than hydro or most other energy supplies. Last year, a staggering total of 25 TWh of wind power had to be curtailed around the country.
BPA said it would be a last resort measure, only after all else fails to soak up the excess, including “bilateral marketing, maintenance deferrals, using available reservoir storage, reducing balancing reserves and lowering output at Columbia Generating Station” (a nuclear power plant).
Oddly, despite an inundation of innovation in storage technologies, BPA makes no mention of any way of storing the excess wind power as an alternative. Do they not read Cleantechnica?
- 25 TWh of Wind Power Idled in 2010 in US – Grid Storage Needed (cleantechnica.com)
- Bonneville Power to Wind Generators — Shut Down, and You Get Free Power (nytimes.com)
- BPA: $25,000 reward in wire theft from Kent substation (seattletimes.nwsource.com)
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