The Bonneville Power Administration is calling for a series of public meetings to discuss how it can avoid giving away free power during wet and windy conditions.
Over a two week period in June, there was so much water in Northwest rivers, and so much wind along the Columbia River Gorge, that the BPA had to literally give power away.
There was even concern it might have to pay utilities to take it.
BPA spokesman, Doug Johnson, says as more and more alternative sources come on line, there’s concern it might start happening more often.
Doug Johnson: “If you don’t have a whole lot of consumption on the other end to take all the energy that can be created by that fuel, you’ve got an issue. Because again, you have to have somewhere to put the energy.”
BPA dams did spill extra water in June, but they have to be careful not to kill fish with gas bubble disease.
Utilities are looking at ways of storing excess power: from batteries as big as shipping containers, to pumping water uphill to a reservoir for later release through a turbine.
The BPA’s first workshop on the issue is scheduled for Oct. 7th at its Portland headquarters.