BPA wants to pull plug on turbines

PORTLAND, OREGON - The Bonneville Power Administration wants to shut down Northwest wind farms this spring when hydroelectric dams are generating plenty of electricity as a huge mountain snowpack melts.

The Portland-based BPA may have to limit production from wind farms to free space in the regional power grid, The Seattle Times reported.

“We’re looking at doing everything we can to avoid the shutdowns, but you have to be able to do something when your back is against the wall,” said Doug Johnson, a BPA spokesman.

The wind-power producers are fighting the proposal that could cost them millions in lost revenue.

“There has been a strong united wind industry voice saying ’This is not reasonable,’” says Roby Roberts, a vice president of Horizon Wind Energy, which has built wind farms in Oregon and Washington.

Wind farms have been sprouting in Washington and Oregon thanks to tax credits and requirements that utilities use more renewable energy. The Northwest farms are capable of producing up to 3,500 megawatts of power — more than triple the energy of the Northwest’s sole nuclear-power plant. And that capacity could double by 2015.

A wind power shutdown would be a last resort, the BPA said, but it has to be ready to balance the flow of energy it markets in the Northwest as well as meeting commitments to ratepayers, helping salmon and selling power outside the region.

The industry says if there are shutdowns it should be compensated for lost revenue.


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