Bonneville Power stretches grid flexibility for wind energy
By Christina Williams
Sustainable Business Oregon editor
A new pilot program will allow Bonneville Power Administration to add more flexibility to its grid.
A new pilot program Bonneville Power Administration is starting with two wind energy operates will add flexibility to the Northwest electric grid and enable better accommodation of variable renewable energy sources.
Portland General Electric and Snohomish PUD have both agreed to provide twice-an-hour scheduling of wind energy transmission through BPA's system, increased from the once-an-hour schedule they've operated the system with for more than a century.
Because wind energy output depends on how strong the wind is blowing — something that can change quickly — the more frequent communication between wind suppliers and the grid will allow the entire system to better adjust to fluctuations.
"It will lower that error between what they're actually producing and what they've scheduled," said Doug Johnson, BPA spokesman.
As a result BPA will be able to better manage its reserves, mostly in the form of water it uses to generate hydropower.
Johnson said the program isn't likely to help in times of oversupply of water, a situation faced by BPA last spring that prompted the shut down of Northwest wind farms and led to an ongoing dispute between renewable energy advocates and the BPA, which is a federal agency.
"But it will help with the flexibility of the system and with integrating wind overall," Johnson said.
It should also ultimately result in lower costs for BPA and lower prices for customers.
PGE and Snohomish PUD agreed to provide wind energy data every half hour in exchange for a 34 percent reduction in the rate BPA charges them for load-balancing services. PGE operates 450 megawatts of wind on the BPA grid, while the PUD has 97 megawatts.
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