Wind Farms in Pacific Northwest Paid to Not Produce

By Dan Springer

Wind farms in the Pacific Northwest — built with government subsidies and maintained with tax credits for every megawatt produced — are now getting paid to shut down as the federal agency charged with managing the region’s electricity grid says there’s an oversupply of renewable power at certain times of the year.

The problem arose during the late spring and early summer last year. Rapid snow melt filled the Columbia River Basin. The water rushed through the 31 dams run by the Bonneville Power Administration, a federal agency based in Portland, Ore., allowing for peak hydropower generation. At the very same time, the wind howled, leading to maximum wind power production.

Demand could not keep up with supply, so BPA shut down the wind farms for nearly 200 hours over 38 days.

“It’s the one system in the world where in real time, moment to moment, you have to produce as much energy as is being consumed,” BPA spokesman Doug Johnson said of the renewable energy.

Now, Bonneville is offering to compensate wind companies for half their lost revenue. The bill could reach up to $50 million a year.

The extra payout means energy users will eventually have to pay more.

“We require taxpayers to subsidize the production of renewable energy, and now we want ratepayers to pay renewable energy companies when they lose money?” asked Todd Myers, director of the Center for the Environment of the Washington Policy Center and author of “Eco-Fads: How the Rise of Trendy Environmentalism is Harming the Environment.”

Read the rest at Fox News.

  • Rob N. Hood

    We’ve done this with farmers forever. It ain’t pretty but in some cases it’s a necessary evil, especially in controlling prices for the Big Boys. In this case, I’m wondering why it’s so difficult to re-route the “extra” energy or store it somehow. Locally I’ve noticed the one or two wind generaters that exist not rotating on some windy days. I was told by someone that it’s for the same reason as above, when the capacity of where-ever that energy is going if “full” the fins on the wind mill are locked in place. Perhaps there is a newer technology that is needed and even being worked on currently to remedy this seemingly bizarre problem. After all, there have been multiple problems to be solved with all technology and mankind seems to eventually overcome many obstacles.

  • NEILIO

    http://campusbrownie.wordpress.com/2010/07/11/why-do-we-pay-farmers-not-to-grow-food/
    “It is indisputable that farming is a difficult, risky business. Only in very recent history has society as a whole been insulated from the effects of drought and insect, disease and flood. America no longer starves when the wheat crop in Nebraska fails. Some of this is surely due to the help that small farms receive from the government, which keeps them in business. But the mechanism is flawed. The concentration of subsidies on grains, particularly corn and soybeans, and on acreage, gives money more to Monsanto and General Mills than to small vegetable farmers. This causes trade tensions and is part of the reason why junk food is so much cheaper than the healthier stuff. The food bought by the government goes into the school lunch program, so schools are required to feed kids a certain amount of cornmeal and cheese. Congress and the Department of Agriculture pay billions, and the result is unhealthy food for poor Americans and kids.”
    —————————————-

    You’re partially right about that, and the Big boys are general Mills and Monsanto. But I should remind you that those policies were put in place by FDR and Johnson, who were both Democrats. But I digress.

    I agree with you that they should have been able to sell off their surplus energy production to other markets, which is what most power generating utilities do pretty much everywhere else. Perhaps they did not forsee a scenario where there would be excess power generated? I don’t know. But it would seem to be a lack of foresite on the utilities part. I don’t think it is a good idea to pay them not to generate power as that is what they are in the business of doing. Take for example my line of work. If we went through a period where nobody needed maintenance on their appliances, should we expect to get paid not to work? I mean we would have a surplus of our product, so to speak, should we ask the state to cover our losses? Of course not. Everyone that operates a business does so with varying degrees of risk, and it is my opinion that they should take take it in the shorts, like everyone else, when things don’t go as planned.

  • Rob N. Hood

    Now who’s talking about (ancient) history. You. Double standard or something? Must be. There has been plenty of time and Republicans to have changed those policies, anyway… so your point is moot, to put it politely. And it’s all about votes, the farmer and middle America voters. And as you well know it isn’t just “Green” things that are subsidized in one form or another. To pick on them only is very very narrow minded. And some things NEED a temporary subsidy, to become viable. Nothing wrong with that really, as long as it isn’t pure pork.

  • Rob N. Hood

    For example: Often lost in the political wrangling over the controversial Keystone XL pipeline – on hold after President Obama rejected TransCanada’s initial construction proposal – are some key findings that run counter to the rosy picture of abundant supply and lower prices so often painted by US politicians.

    More US news from the Christian Science Monitor Canadian companies backing the Keystone XL – touted as enhancing US energy security with a big new surge of imported Canadian oil – actually expect it to supply more lucrative Gulf Coast export markets as well as raise Midwest oil prices by reducing “oversupply” in that region.

    These little-publicized findings are contained in the studies and testimony of experts working for TransCanada, the company that wants to build the pipeline from Alberta’s tar sands across America’s heartland to Gulf Coast refineries.

    • NEILIO

      I only pointed out that FDR and Johnson introduced those policies. I did not blame anything and everything on them. Nor do I seethe with absolute hatred for them as you do for former president Bush, so don’t try to make that link.
      As far as the other stuff about subsidies for farmers and oil pipelines, I have to admit that I don’t know that much about those so I’m going to stick to the issue at hand. Do you think it is a good idea for the govt. to spend more money on subsidising EV’s or not?

      • NEILIO

        Sorry, I got my threads mixed up here, EV’s were in a different story. This one is about the wind farm getting paid not to produce. And I think we actually agree, for the most part, on this one. So, I am not going to spend anymore time on this one. See you in the next story. Neilio out!

      • Rob N. Hood

        Yes, up to a point it’s fine. It’s done all the time for all sorts of things, much less useful or heopful than EV’s. A tax rebate is virtually nothing in the scheme of things. Not worth having an article highlighted about it that’s for sure.

  • Rob N. Hood

    FYI: Like most Liberals, I seethe only when absolutely necessary.

    Thus did a handful of rapacious citizens come to control all that was worth controlling in America. Thus was the savage and stupid and entirely inappropriate and unnecessary and humorless American class system created. Honest, industrious, peaceful citizens were classes as bloodsuckers, if they asked to be paid a living wage. And they saw that praise was reserved henceforth for those who devised means of getting paid enormously for committing crimes against which no laws had been passed. Thus the American dream turned belly up, turned green, bobbed to the scummy surface of cupidity unlimited, filled with gas, went bang in the noonday sun.

    Kurt Vonnegut: God Bless you, Mr. Rosewater

  • NEILIO

    George Bush!

    • NEILIO

      How did that make you feel?

  • Rob N. Hood

    A little like laughing (at you) and crying (for our country). But non-viscerally of course.

  • Rob N. Hood

    Except for the seething.

  • Rob N. Hood

    And gnashing of teeth, but other than that… nothin’.

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