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Economic and dam related articles

Congressman to BPA:
Turn Wind Farms Back On

by George Prentice
Boise Weekly, May 24, 2011

(Rick Bowmer) Water pours through Bonneville Dam on the Columbia River earlier this month. An Oregon congressman and wind energy industry officials lashed out at the Bonneville Power Administration Monday, calling on the energy giant to "fix problems" that have forced the shut-off of Northwest wind generators. The complaints were lodged by Democratic Rep. Earl Blumenauer and a spokesman from the American Wind Energy Association at a wind energy conference in California.

A high spring runoff from a robust snowpack has resulted in the region's hydroelectric dams filling the power grid. Consequently, BPA asked wind and fossil fuel-powered generators to shut down.

"The reality is that when both these power sources are being fueled by nature, we can't always control the volume we get out of it," said Bonneville spokesman Michael Milstein.

But Blumenauer said the shut-offs are costing wind power generators millions of dollars "at a time when they need help attracting investment to keep growing."

"There's a disconnect between Bonneville's short-term actions and the Obama administration's long-term stated goals," said Blumenauer.

Meanwhile, a hearing examiner granted a conditional use permit to construct yet another wind farm in the region, this time on the Palouse. A group calling itself the Palouse Wind Project said a planned wind farm in northeastern Whitman County, Wash., would have a potential generating capacity of 100 megawatts, enough to power 25,000 homes.

Comment posted by and is open to your response.

A decade ago, many would posit that wind power could not replace the benefits of the four lower Snake River dams: Lower Granite, Little Goose, Lower Monumental and Ice Harbor. As it turns, this is half true. Wind power can replace only some of the benefits. In selecting replacement resources, one need consider what together, these southeastern Washington dams provide:

The current wind power within BPA's grid meets the first three requirements but not the second three. Of note is Tom Karier's recent testimony to the Congressional Subcommittee on Water and Power:
"The lower Snake River dams provide 1,110 average megawatts of energy under average water conditions, about 5 percent of regional annual electric energy needs. In addition, the dams provide 3,500 megawatts of short-term capacity, a little more than 10 percent of the total hydroelectric system capacity, and as part of the Automated Generation Control (AGC) System, they provide system reserves to maintain the reliability of the power supply. They also provide reactive support for the stability of the transmission system."

The effects of removing the capability of the lower Snake River dams are mainly determined by the replacement resources that would be required for the power system to duplicate the energy, capacity, real-time load following, stability reserves and reactive support currently provided by the dams. ..." (more at website).

George Prentice
Congressman to BPA: Turn Wind Farms Back On
Boise Weekly, May 24, 2011

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