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Federal power purchasing agency Bonneville Power Administration (BPA) is currently negotiating for lower power prices from developers of two proposed wind projects in the Pacific Northwest of the United States. The federal agency is also discussing the possibility of "green" pricing with the utilities in the region for sales of renewable power. BPA has earlier said it might have to axe support for four renewables projects, including an $85 million Kenetech wind plant in Wyoming and a proposed project by a utility grouping, CARES, in Klickitat County, Washington. BPA says it must reduce its $3.5 billion annual budget by $350 million.

A decision on the renewables projects is expected this summer, says BPA's Dulcy Maher, but "wind is most likely" to survive the budgetary review. Only one of the projects might survive, she adds. In addition, some 20 out of the region's 181 customers, including utilities, are interested in green pricing.

BPA is losing customers as the electricity market is deregulated and because of plummeting gas prices. "We're no different from any other utility other than our back is to the wall," she says. "Very candidly, if we want to survive to give leadership on conservation and renewables, we have to get over this humpÉ. We'll have to frankly get some help with cost cutting." Renewables have not been singled out as a target, she assures.

In May, it was looking as if Kenetech's 70.5 MW Wyoming project was being favoured by BPA. The Conservation and Renewable Energy System (CARES) was trying to trim back the cost of its $27 million 25 MW proposal, but Washington officials said they sensed that the Wyoming project had the upper hand. The CARES project would consist of 91 FloWind AWT turbines. Blades would be built in Port Angeles on the Olympic Peninsula in Washington, employing 60 people, says FloWind.

Meantime, though, Kenetech Corp is scaling back its proposed wind farm in eastern Oregon. The 100 MW plant in the Blue Mountains -- known locally as the Vansycle Ridge wind plant -- will be cut back to about 50 MW, says the Oregonian newspaper. The reported cause of the cut-back is BPA's reduction in funding. Ultimately, Kenetech still hopes to build 100 MW in Umatilla County and adjoining Walla Walla County, it said.

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