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Forced Outages for Northwest Wind Farms

by William Pentland
Forbes, May 23, 2011

13 Gigs (gigawatt hours) Wasted and Still Counting

Wind turbines in Blalock Canyon, a few miles off I-84 near Arlington. Grid operators in the Pacific Northwest have repeatedly pulled the plug on several large wind farms in Oregon and Washington State, collectively curtailing roughly 13 gigawatt hours (GWh) of wind power since last Wednesday.

The Bonneville Power Administration (BPA) imposed the reverse rolling power outages on power plants - thermal and wind power - as required under its new Environmental Redispatch policy, which seeks to accommodate abnormally high levels of hydropower, safeguard salmon and steelhead populations and protect the smooth operation of the transmission system.

The daily wind outages vary in size, according to the BPA's website, which provides a daily log of the outages:

May 18. From midnight until 5 a.m. May 18, approximately 200-350 megawatts of wind generation per hour, totaling about 1,400 megawatt hours, were impacted.

May 19. During that six hour period (from 11:00 PM to 6:00 AM), slightly less than 1,000 megawatts per hour of wind generation, totaling about 5,700 megawatt hours, were impacted.

May 20. During that six hour period (from 11:00 PM to 6:00 AM), approximately 600 to 1,200 megawatts per hour of wind generation, totaling about 5,300 megawatt hours, were impacted.

Although the problems playing out in the Pacific Northwest will likely be resolved as soon as water levels recede or night-time power demand rises, the situation raises concerns about how successful federal and state regulators' efforts to integrate growing supplies of electricity from renewable resources like wind and solar will be in the near to mid-term future.

Related Pages:
Wind Success Comes with Challenges by Staff, BPA Journal, 12/8
How Too Much Wind Power Could Actually Hurt Salmon by Dan Tilkin Video, KATU News, 11/5/8
Managing with Wind and Water by Ted Sickinger, The Oregonian, 10/12/8
BPA Sees 'Precarious' NW Energy Picture by Staff, KTVZ, 2/20/7
Energy Supply/Demand Requires Action by Staff, BPA Journal, 3/7

William Pentland
Forced Outages for Northwest Wind Farms
Forbes, May 23, 2011

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