In an earlier post, we talked about how California's quest for renewable energy has meant that a growing portion of the wind energy developed in the Northwest is going to our neighbor to the south.
While there are challenges associated with this trend, here are some of the steps that the Bonneville Power Administration is taking to help make the growing amount of wind power work in the Northwest's system.
Right now, less than 15 percent of the wind energy capacity connected to the Bonneville Power Administration's transmission system serves Bonneville customers. California gets most of the region's wind energy and renewable energy credits. By the end of the year, Bonneville expects that almost half of the wind capacity on its system will be owned by, or under contract to, California utilities.
Over the last several months, Bonneville has explored a variety of actions like building new substations and reinforcing existing transmission to increase its system capacity to integrate the large amount of wind power coming on line in the Northwest. It has also proposed expanding Northwest-California transmission capacity and limiting the use of renewable energy credits, except for wind developers helping to address transmission challenges.
While Bonneville is working hard with developers and California utilities to find solutions, it's also willing to make tough decisions. In 2009, Bonneville imposed a new, mandatory requirement on its transmission customers that allows the agency to curtail wind project output or temporarily halt transmission schedules to other transmission balancing authorities when the hydropower reserves set aside to balance wind approach depletion. It's also working with the California Independent System Operator and others to increase the supply of power reserves.
Bonneville also expressed concern to the California Public Utilities Commission about the potential impact on salmon and steelhead if Columbia River hydropower is used to balance wind power transmission to California.