Today, Save Our wild Salmon and four other fishing or conservation groups submitted comments with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) opposing BPA’s so-called “oversupply management protocol.” Read our previous statement on this issue pointing out the absence of any biological basis for this policy. Since the odds are high that over-supply episodes will occur again this April, May and/or June, we have asked FERC to rule on BPA’s policy as quickly as possible. If FERC promptly rejects BPA’s policy, a better policy for both salmon and wind generation could still be put in place.
We additionally have to ask: if this issue is truly about protecting endangered salmon, why is the Protocol limited to paying wind generators and displacing “thermal” resources only in BPA’s control area? Shouldn’t BPA be looking outside of its control area for more ways to reduce spill if the overriding concern in this matter is protecting fish? The fact that BPA is unwilling to do so demonstrates yet again that, when push comes to shove, this is a spending issue for BPA, not a fish issue.
Furthermore, BPA’s actions in this “oversupply” scenario would seem to stand in direct conflict with the goals and directives of the Obama Administration and the federal Department of Energy. A recent letter from Energy Secretary Steven Chu to BPA and other Power Marketing Administrations (PMAs) noted that DOE was going to be requiring PMAs to begin taking additional steps to upgrade the power grid and integrate renewables. BPA’s Protocol, far from assisting in those efforts, is actively stymieing the development and continued success of the burgeoning wind industry in the region. That is not an acceptable outcome for either wind farms in the region or for Columbia-Snake salmon, and we agree with Secretary Chu that BPA “must now rise to the challenges of the 21st century.”
A recent report from BPA points out that wind farms on its transmission grid produced more than 4,000 megawatts of power on a single day. It is interesting to note that this amount is nearly four times the average output of the four outdated lower Snake River Dams.
Our full statement of protest submitted to FERC is available at this LINK.