Wind-vs.-water dispute heads to federal court
By Lee van der Voo, Sustainable Business Oregon
Sustainable Business Oregon
Bonneville Power Administration's policy of turning off wind power during times of high water flow has come under fire from Northwest renewable enegy companies.
Northwest power companies are expanding the stage for their legal battle with the Bonneville Power Administration – this time to federal court.
Eight companies have filed appeals in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals challenging BPA’s controversial Environmental Redispatch Policy, which called for wind farms to shut down their turbines during times of high water flow.
The policy is aimed at balancing the grid amid high water flows. From May 18 to July 10, it led to the curtailment of 97,557 megawatt hours of wind power at 35 wind farms in the Columbia Gorge, or 5.4 percent of total wind power generated during that period.
Wind companies absorbed related losses from missed power sales and unearned tax credits tied to renewable energy production. The policy was drafted following challenges in balancing wind power with high water levels in 2010. BPA has integrated 3,400 megawatts of new wind capacity since 2005. But difficulties with the new capacity emerged this spring.
The first federal case was filed on July 22 by Cannon Power Group LLC and Windy Flats Partners LLC. It was followed by others from Nextera Energy Resources LLC, Caithness Shepherds Flat LLC, Iberdrola Renewables, Inc., Invenergy Wind North America, EDP Renewables North America LLC and PacifiCorp before an Aug. 10 filing deadline.
For now, the lawsuits are merely placeholders. Opening briefs are due in October, with response briefs from BPA to follow.
Responding to a questionnaire from potential mediators, however, Cannon Power Group LLC and Wind Flats Partners LLC gave early indication that the lawsuit would challenge the policy on a variety of legal fronts.
Lee van der Voo, lvdvoo*at*gmail.com, is a freelance writer for Sustainable Business Oregon.
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