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Think Out Loud

Powerful Combination

Pete Springer/OPB

In our next show as part of OPB’s series The Switch, we’ll be looking at how hydro and wind power can complement one another. Wind is an intermittent source of energy that is difficult to store. In an integrated system, the idea is that hydroelectric power can help fill in the gaps when the wind is not blowing and back off to take full advantage of wind power when it’s in abundance. Of course, it doesn’t always go that smoothly.

Last year, a surplus of both wind and water in the Northwest threatened to throw the system out of balance. The Bonneville Power Administration, which is responsible for blending wind and hydro power, also has to take salmon into account when a surge in wind power means spilling water over the dams.

Do you work on a wind farm or at a hydroelectric dam? Do you live in the Columbia River Gorge, where most of the region’s wind and hydro power comes from? What concerns do you have about integrating these resources in the Northwest? What makes you feel optimistic about a marriage between wind and water?


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