Wind Power News: Washington
These news and opinion items are gathered by National Wind Watch to help keep readers informed about developments related to industrial wind energy. They are the products of the organizations or individuals noted and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of National Wind Watch.
Wind energy could be stored underground among volcanic rock formations in two places in Eastern Washington, making the seasonal and intermittent power that wind generates more practical, according to a new study. Sites north of Boardman in Benton County and about 10 miles north of Selah in the Yakima Canyon could store enough wind energy to power about 85,000 homes each month, according to the study, conducted by Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and Bonneville Power Administration. About 13 percent of . . .
More than a year after its approval, a proposed wind farm in the Columbia River Gorge remains in legal limbo. Now the controversial plan is headed for a date with the Washington Supreme Court. The Whistling Ridge Energy Project received a green light last year from then-Gov. Chris Gregoire, following the recommendation of the state Energy Facility Site Evaluation Council. But the decision also scaled back the original proposal, reducing the number of wind turbines from 50 to 35 in . . .
A wind turbine at the city of Ellensburg’s Renewable Energy Park toppled over on Monday, buckling under wind speeds of more than 30 mph and gusts as high as 45 mph. Gary Nystedt, city resource manager, said city staff will start going through the turbine’s wind speed data to figure out exactly when it came down. He said the city will meet with Bellevue contractor Burke Electric — which installed several of the towers at the park, including the toppled Tangerie . . .
A year after Longview resident Ken Spring installed a vintage windmill on his 3-acre property without a permit, the City Council adopted new zoning rules that allow for small wind energy systems. “I just hope it’s over,” Spring, 72, said Friday of his battle with the city. “When they told me they didn’t have any criteria for permitting windmills, I said, ‘Well, good, I can put one up. They said, ‘Oh no.’ … That was a shock to my system. . . .
I’m writing in response to the April 19 story “BPA plan would share wind-power shutdown costs.” Hello! What happened to free enterprise, supply and demand? One should remember that the wind farms were funded with venture capital and tax incentives. If the venture fails, then the ratepayers should not pay for that failure. Head-to-head rate competition between wind power and Bonneville Dam could produce reduced rates to the ratepayers. Another alternative: Both Bonneville and the wind-power operatives could have shutdowns . . .
The National Weather Service runs a network of Doppler radar stations intended to map storms by detecting moving raindrops. Serendipitously, windmill blades being mounted well above the ground and containing conductive lightning arresters produce very strong radar echoes. When the blades are turning, the radar echoes are Doppler-shifted and therefore show up on Doppler radar maps as stationary targets, brighter than all but the most severe thunderstorms or tornadoes. Of course, when the wind isn’t blowing, windmills that aren’t in . . .
The Bonneville Power Administration (BPA) this week released a new proposal to share the “oversupply costs” that pile up when there is not enough demand for all the electricity produced by hydroelectric dams and wind-power producers. During these oversupply periods, when wind-power producers may be asked to shut down, the plan would compensate them for lost revenue, according to Doug Johnson, a BPA spokesman. This year, the BPA forecast a 50 percent chance there will be an oversupply of power. . . .
Reducing greenhouse gas emissions is good for the Earth and the humans who live on it. Given that, it’s no surprise Gov. Jay Inslee’s proposal to study reducing greenhouse gas emissions had bipartisan (mostly Democratic) support when it won final approval of the Legislature last week. But limiting the scope of the study so it does not look at all viable options as well as the economic realities will produce an incomplete look at things. A Republican amendment to Inslee’s . . .
House Republicans sought to amend the bill to include an exploration of the long-term viability of solar and wind energy and to study whether hydroelectric power should be counted as green energy under state rules. They pointed out that the wind and solar power industries have received government subsidies and that hydroelectric power is not a big polluter and is relatively inexpensive.
“This bill is a study bill,” said Rep. Cathy Dahlquist, R-Enumclaw. “What I say to those who bring forward a study bill is to do your homework first.”
The amendments failed, mostly along party lines.
In 2006, Cowlitz PUD officials vehemently fought a losing battle against a new energy mandate, arguing that rates would rise if the utility were forced to find expensive new sources of renewable energy. Now, after investing more than $150 million in two new wind farms, the PUD is fighting to prevent changes to Initiative 937, arguing that, once again, Cowlitz ratepayers could suffer if state lawmakers water down the law. “To change the law, frankly, is not in our best . . .