BPA proposes compromise in wind dispute

The Bonneville Power Administration proposed a compromise on Feb. 7 regarding a dispute with wind producers who were forced to shut down last spring, when heavy runoff produced too much hydroelectric power.

The BPA has proposed to pay half the losses incurred by wind power producers that shut down when the extra hydroelectric power was too much for the grid to handle. The cost would be passed on in increased rates for major customers, such as public utilities, the aluminum industry, and federal installations.

The BPA ordered wind power producers to shut down last spring, saying so much water was flowing down the Columbia River that not enough could be diverted past turbines and over spillways without harming endangered salmon.

The costs could run as high as $50 million a year but are expected to average about $12 million. BPA intends to bear the costs throughout the year and add them to its rate case at the end of the year, splitting the costs between their Federal Base System customers and wind energy producers, said BPA spokesman Doug Johnson. He also said there is a 2-in-3 chance that BPA would have to ask wind power producers to shut down again this spring.

Public comments will be taken on the proposal until Feb. 21. There is a March 6 deadline for filing a final proposal ordered by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. The deal would run through 2015.

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