BPA Reaches 1,000 MW Milestone
The Bonneville Power Administration says that, for the first time, the amount of wind power being delivered to customers via its transmission lines has exceeded 1,000 megawatts. That amount of electricity is enough to meet average electricity demand for approximately 680,000 Northwest residences.
"This is an important accomplishment for the region," said Brian Silverstein, BPA vice president, Planning and Asset Management. "Within just a few years, we've seen more wind projects come on line, and BPA has been working quickly to connect the new projects into the regional power grid. States are calling for adding more clean, renewable sources of energy to the region's power supply and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. This is clear evidence that power providers are responding and taking action to address the region's changing needs."
BPA markets more than a third of the electricity consumed in the Pacific Northwest. The power is produced at 31 federal dams and one nuclear plant in the Northwest and is sold to more than 140 Northwest utilities. BPA operates a high-voltage transmission grid comprising more than 15,000 miles of lines and associated substations in Washington, Oregon, Idaho and Montana.
BPA first began connecting wind generation projects to its system in the late 1990s. From that time until fall 2005, the peak amount of wind in the BPA system remained at about 250 MW. The peak amount of wind increased to about 475 MW by December 2005, and, by 2006, it had grown to more than 775 MW. In the last several years, that figure has steadily increased as more wind projects have come on line in the Northwest. This past November, actual wind generation on the BPA system surpassed the 1,000 MW level for the first time
Three states that include many of the utilities served by BPA -- Washington, Oregon and Montana -- have enacted legislation requiring utilities to phase in additional renewable energy sources over time.
The Northwest Power and Conservation Council's Fifth Northwest Power Plan anticipates wind power will play a major role in meeting the region's future demand for electricity. The plan foresees the development of up to 5,000 MW of new wind power over its 20-year planning period. To date, BPA has connected 13 wind projects into the region's transmission grid
BPA officials say reaching the 1,000 MW milestone is significant because of the challenges involved with integrating wind power into the region's electrical grid.
Building new transmission lines and substations is often required to deliver electricity from the new wind projects, which are usually located in remote areas, to customers. And because wind is an intermittent resource -- power is only generated when the wind is blowing -- BPA is working with utilities and other stakeholders in the region to develop approaches to effectively manage the variability of wind power to meet consumer demand.
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