BPA Shuts Down Wind Farms and Promises Compensation

May 2, 2012

Wind farms along the Columbia River were asked to shut down for about 10 hours over the weekend. For the second year in a row, spring rain and snowmelt have led to an oversupply of hydropower on the Columbia River. Amelia Templeton reports.

If too much power flows onto the grid and doesn’t get used, blackouts can happen. The Bonneville Power Administration is in charge of keeping the region’s grid in balance. The BPA says it’s already asked coal plants, and a nuclear plant in Washington, to cut back on their generation. But at night, there just isn’t much demand for energy.

BPA says there may be more periods this spring when wind farms have to shut down. Last year, federal energy regulators ruled that the wind curtailment policy was discriminatory. The BPA’s Michael Milstein says this year’s policy treats wind farms fairly.

Milstein: “They’re being made financially whole, that’s the difference. They’re being reimbursed for that lost revenue that they have incurred as a result of this.”

Advocates for wind energy say the compensation is an improvement but not a solution. They need reliable access to transmission lines.

Copyright 2012 Northwest News Network