Ferc rules against BPA over curtailments

UNITED STATES: America’s electricity regulators today ruled that Bonneville Power Administration’s (BPA’s) curtailments of wind generation in the Pacific Northwest are “discriminatory” and must be revised.

The Dalles dam on the Columbia River was among the hydropower sources affected

The decision, from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (Ferc), has taken the wind community by surprise.

Michael Goggin, manager of transmission policy at the American Wind Energy Association said: "It’s a major victory for wind companies. They got everything they asked for."

Rachel Shimshak executive director of regional trade body Renewable Northwest Project said: "We can now focus on all of the options that regional players can pursue to reduce these high-water situations in the future."

There were questions over the possibility of Ferc intervening, because BPA — a ‘non-regulated’ federal agency — a is not always within the regulatory agency’s jurisdiction.

In a statement the BPA expressed "surprise and disappointment" over the timing of Ferc's decision. It said: "It [Ferc] is aware that we have been urged by many members of the Northwest Congressional delegation to settle this issue, and when settlement discussions are proceeding in good faith. The temporary oversupply of energy is a Northwest challenge."

BPA’s nightly curtailments of wind power this spring, because of extra hydro power due to more snow melt, had infuriated wind operators.

Although their customers were supplied with hydro power during the wind curtailments, the wind operators were not able to get any production tax credit — which is accrued for electricity generated — or reap renewable energy certificates as long as their power was shut off.

On June 13, Iberdrola, PacificCorp, NextEra Energy Resources, EDP Renovaveis subsidiary Horizon Wind Energy and Invenergy had filed the 113-page complaint with Ferc.

Wind operators have also filed suit with the US Court of Appeals.