by Mark Del Franco
High seasonal river flows resulting from runoff from large snowpacks caused an overabundance of hydropower and left no room on the grid to accommodate wind power. This led the BPA to curtail wind production this spring, which angered wind developers and prompted them to file a complaint with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) in June.
The developers, including Iberdrola, Horizon Wind Energy, NextEra Energy Resources and Invenergy, say they have lost millions of dollars in revenue because of the wind curtailment.
In the period from May 18 to July 10, the BPA says it ordered wind generators to shut down for several hours, typically in the low-power-demand nighttime hours. According to the BPA, about 6% of its scheduled wind generation had been curtailed.
The BPA, which is mandated to ensure system reliability, says it was justified in its actions and claims one of the reasons for stopping wind power output was to protect salmon.
Save Our Wild Salmon, an environmental advocacy group, says the BPA's characterizations are not based on science and calls the system operator's actions "irresponsible."
"BPA's position that they had to curtail wind power's access to the power grid as a result of protections for endangered salmon is not scientifically supported," says Amy Baird, communications director at Save Our Wild Salmon. "The reality is that the wind energy sector and salmon recovery are very much linked - not at odds - with each other."