Calpine to Buy Pacific Northwest Wind Powerby James Cartledge
Brighter Energy, September 13, 2010
The Bonneville Power Administration has agreed a deal to sell wind power to California-based power company Calpine Corporation.
The federal power marketing agency based in Portland, Oregon, will sell excess electricity to Calpine Corp when wind farms on its network produce more power than forecast.
During such times, the BPA will be able to request that Calpine quickly reduce the power generation of its natural gas-fired Hermiston Power Project to balance the extra wind power.
The pilot project provides for up to 75-megawatts of generation flexibility at the 616MW combined cycle cogeneration plant in Hermiston, Oregon.
Elliot Mainzer, executive vice president of Corporate Strategy for BPA, explained that historically, hydropower projeccts in the Pacific Northwest have provided the "vast majority" of reserves to compensate for spikes in the region's wind power.
The situation is changing because of the increasing amount of wind power capacity being developed in the area.
Mr Mainzer said: "BPA has been looking at other sources to help reduce the balancing burden on the federal hydro system. This pilot project fits very nicely into BPA's overall strategy of using non-federal power supplies to help support wind."
Jeff Woodall, Calpine's VP of Power Trading for California, said turning down the power output at the Hermiston plant to balance extra wind power would allow BPA to make better use of its hydroelectric generation system.
He said: "Calpine continually works with our customers to find innovative solutions to the opportunities and challenges presented by integrating renewable resources into the power grid."
The BPA currently purchases power from seven wind projects, and now has more than 3,000 megawatts of wind interconnected to its transmission system.The latest addition was at PGE's Biglow Canyon wind farm (see this BrighterEnergy.org story).
This can be balanced by the 31 federal dams on the BPA's network.
If the pilot project with Calpine is successful, it could lead to more natural gas power plants agreeing to reduce output to help balance wind farm capacity.
Calpine Corporation currently has nearly 29,000 megawatts of power generating capacity from 93 operating plants using natural gas and geothermal power.
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