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Washing Out Wind?

OPB | April 19, 2011 9:06 a.m. | Updated: Sept. 10, 2013 10 p.m.

The Bonneville Power Administration may ask wind companies to cut back on energy generation to allow the grid to absorb an excess of hydro power.

The significant amount of snow that fell in the Northwest this winter is melting and creating a surge in runoff and, therefore, hydro power. As we’ve discussed before, hydro and wind power are complimentary energy sources. Since wind is an intermittent source of energy, it usually works well to have hydro power available to balance output to the grid when the wind isn’t blowing. But things don’t always balance out so easily.

Last June, an influx of both wind and water almost forced BPA to ask other energy producers to curtail their operations. This spring has brought with it a similar situation, and BPA is saying it may have to ask wind companies to cut back on production in order to avoid spilling too much water over dams, which could harm fish. A possible reduction in output is especially problematic for wind companies, which receive tax credits that are directly tied to energy production. 

Do you work for a wind or hydro power company? How do excess levels of energy production affect you?

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