Up to 1,000 megawatts of wind energy is needed by the Bonneville Power Administration. A request for proposals was issued on February 22 for the generating capacity, to be delivered as soon as possible.
PORTLAND, Oregon – “We want as much power as fast as we can get it to help alleviate the energy shortage,” explains BPA’s George Darr. “We strongly prefer larger projects with the potential for expansion.” BPA has set a minimum of 15 average megawatts for a project, which is 40 to 60 MW of nameplate capacity for a turbine. The RFP calls for “competitive” pricing for the new power, and Darr anticipates that new wind farms should generate at lower than the average price that California has paid in recent auctions. “With rising prices hitting families hard this winter, it is clear that we need to increase power generation in the Northwest,” adds Rep. Greg Walden (R-Ore.), co-chair of the House Renewable Energy Caucus and the only member from the U.S. northwest on the Energy & Commerce Committee. “Clean, renewable energy sources, such as wind, are particularly attractive options because they provide additional energy with minimal environmental impact.” Wind is a preferred technology because it can be commissioned within 24 months, at a price that is competitive with combustion turbines. Turbines are relatively easy to site and expand, have low environmental impacts and are attractive to participants in green power programs. BPA is one of the largest supporters of wind generation in the U.S. northwest. The federal agency is buying or negotiating 300 MW from three existing wind projects in Wyoming and four projects in Oregon, Washington and Montana. The 1,000 MW would supply the needs of 150,000 homes in the region. Earlier this month, BPA said it would accelerate its $200 million renewable development and energy conservation program that was scheduled to begin this fall, to relieve the current electricity shortage in the region. “This is a program we had intended to start next fall, but, with the current shortage, we are offering it immediately,” says Steve Wright. “With the energy shortages and the high cost of purchasing power in this market, we and our customer utilities wanted to kick conservation into high gear now.” The money will be spent over five years to provide a discount to member utilities, increase conservation, curtail peak consumption by large industrial consumers, and fund the Northwest Energy Efficiency Alliance to implement a compact fluorescent lamp rebate program. BPA is a public agency that was created by of Congress in 1937, and now supplies half of the electricity in the region from 29 federal dams.