The dams are great for the job -- operators can adjust water flows through the turbines to help offset variable wind output. As the region's wind fleet grows, an ever bigger slice of the hydro pie is being reserved to fill in when the wind doesn't blow as scheduled.That means foregone sales of surplus power, a source of revenue that reduces BPA's rates for public utility customers.BPA ultimately backed away from the big rate increase.But it is coming up again this year as the agency kicks off a new rate-setting process.But the federal power marketing agency manages three quarters of the region's high voltage transmission system, including the sections serving most of the region's wind farms.
Too many curtailments, however, undermines the economics of wind, not only because turbines generate less power to sell but because valuable tax and renewable energy credits are only generated when their blades are spinning.
Meanwhile, it has pushed ahead with a variety of efforts to accommodate more variable resources, from better wind forecasting to more flexible scheduling of transmission.
In extreme situations, however, the agency continues to dump wind.
"We are committed to trying to find ways to get as much wind into the system as possible, but we're going to be real sticklers about reliability, and we think its it's not fair to have a cost shift," said Elliott Mainzer, BPA's director of strategic planning BPA does charge wind farms to offset the additional costs they bring to the system. Last year, when the agency proposed quadrupling its “integration” rate, Oregon’s congressional delegation took up the wind developers’ fight, accusing the agency of dragging its feet on renewables and focusing solely on maintaining low rates for its public utility customers. Ron Wyden was highly critical of the agency’s attitude problem, and Rep.
Earl Blumenauer even suggested it might be time for new leadership at the agency.