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United States

Oregon regulator slams BPA wind curtailments

UNITED STATES: Curtailments of wind farms' output in the US north-west have been heavily criticised by the state energy regulator for Oregon in legal papers filed this week.

The Dalles dam on the Columbia River has been affected by extra snow-melt
The Dalles dam on the Columbia River has been affected by extra snow-melt

The Public Utility Commission of Oregon (OPUC) claims that the Bonneville Power Administration’s "anticompetitive and discriminatory" policy of limiting wind-power output at times of oversupply of hydropower risked wrecking the wider region’s investment plans for renewable energy.

"Markets cannot properly function if a party can abandon its contractual obligations and unilaterally use its transmission system to impose its own policies to benefit a preferred group of customers," read the OPUC submission to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (Ferc).

The submission urged Ferc to make BPA immediately revise its curtailment policy and was made in response to a 113-page complaint filed with FERC by a group of wind-farm owners — including Iberdrola, NextEra Energy Resources, and EDP Renovaveis subsidiary Horizon Wind Energy — against BPA's actions, which, at the time of the filing, had already stopped around 74GWh of output.

In addition to the OPUC submission, BPA also filed papers with Ferc this week in response to the wind-farm owners’ complaint.

It highlights BPA's statutory obligation to protect fish, which prevents it spilling too much water over dams at times of high water levels and necessitates the production of extra hydropower. It also points out BPA’s inability to sell wind-generated electricity during times of low demand and claims that Ferc has no authority in the contract dispute.

Ferc has not yet responded to the complaint, pending the answer filed this week from BPA.

BPA is no longer requesting wind-power shutdowns this year and last month claimed that since the curtailments started on 18 May just 6.7% of electricity generated by wind farms had been affected.

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