BPA Boosts Research
by Becky Brun
The Bonneville Power Administration (BPA) in December announced plans to spend $1 million in 2007 on renewable energy research and development.
BPA issued a formal request for proposals to the energy industry to find better ways to integrate intermittent renewable power resources, such as wind energy, into the region's grid. BPA also plans to fund research on ocean wave and in-stream tidal energy technologies.
"The existing federal power system uses 31 dams and one nuclear power plant, along with some wind power, to generate emission-free, non-fossil-fuel based electricity for the Northwest," BPA Deputy Administrator Steve Hickok says. "Adding renewable wave energy to the mix, with no associated fossil fuel use or emissions, certainly would fit well with our federal power supply portfolio and could hold promise as our region's electricity needs continue to grow."
The renewable integration portion of the request for proposals could help support recommendations outlined in the region's Wind Integration Action Plan [see "Current Thinking: Integrating wind," nwcurrent, Oct. 2006]. The plan, created by a group that includes regional utility and energy experts, is expected to be finished by early 2007.
The Northwest Power and Conservation Council's Fifth Power Plan calls for meeting future demand for power with a mixture of energy conservation and new power plants, with a large emphasis on wind power. Wind power currently supplies about 3 percent of the region's electricity, according to Renewable Northwest Project. Since January 2005, facilities supplying more than 970 megawatts of wind power have been completed or are under construction in the Northwest and construction of another 660 megawatts or more is expected within the next two years, according to BPA.
While it committed to spending $1 million in fiscal year 2007 on renewable energy research and develpment, BPA claims there is potential for additional funding in the future.
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