Stating the obvious about industrial wind – “Something is Missing”

I don’t want to be accused of putting words in their mouth, so I’ll just use Idaho Power’s own.  In fact, here’s an ad they recently published:

Stating the obvious … that the wind “blows one minute and not the next,” the ad goes on to explain that “integrating wind energy into the grid that brings power to our homes requires facilities that can quickly adjust to moment-to-moment fluctuations in wind activities.”  The problem, according to Idaho Power (and many others, in fact) is that “unfortunately, traditional generating plants … are not suited to the task.  Integrating all of this variable capacity also undermines the time-tested, science- and technology-driven, 20 -year look-forward plan that is required of all utilities.  And that just isn’t right.

Wow! … seems to me that Idaho Power might want to revisit their original assessment of wind integration.  Wait … they are???  “Idaho Power is revisiting its study of wind integration in 2011.”

Well, I’ll be darned.  Idaho Power notes that “installed wind generation capacity continues to expand in the Pacific Northwest, including Idaho. This expansion is accompanied by continuing concerns over the impacts and costs of integrating production from wind generators …

So Idaho Power states that “the objective of this study is to assess the costs incurred in modifying operations of dispatchable generating resources in order to allow them to respond to the variable and uncertain energy supplied by wind generators such that the reliable delivery of electrical power to customers is unaffected.

I’m anxious to see the results from this task, which is included as an agenda item in the study:

Task 3 –Determine operational violation status for base case

Parameters to be evaluated:

  • Unserved energy
  • Overgeneration
  • Non-spin
  • Spin
  • Reg-up
  • Reg-down

Seems Idaho Power is looking at the possibility of assessing penalties ($$$) if these items become an issue.

Anyway, Idaho Power provides a couple of links describing the 2011 Wind Study which you might find interesting:

Of course, this is all playing out just as the Bonneville Power Administration issued a policy Friday saying it will order wind power producers to shut down generation, due to greatly increased output from its hydro facilities.

We will, of course, keep an eye out for the results from the study and report them when published.  But, in the meantime, Idaho Power has an interesting site they’d like you to visit – getpluggedin.  I highly recommend you do so.  They are asking for your comments.

As we’ve said here at AT many times before, “The greatest threat to the wind industry’s growth is, in fact, the wind industry’s growth.”

AT Note:  Thanks to Glenn Schleede for pointing us to the Idaho Power advertisement.

This entry was posted in Glenn Schleede, industrial wind failure, industrial wind poor performance, industrial wind v fossil fuel and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Stating the obvious about industrial wind – “Something is Missing”

  1. jon Boone says:

    Readers might also note that Idaho Power hurriedly withdrew this ad after the woman who circulated it–Tauna Christensen–had distributed it widely. Even cursory examination of the getpluggedin website shows that it’s basically a spin machine for wind.

  2. Kevin says:

    Hello Morgan, Allegheny Treasures readers and Mr. Boone,

    This is Kevin Winslow writing from Idaho Power. Morgan, I’m thrilled that you published a copy of our ad and I appreciate your thoughtful commentary on the issues associated with integrating wind power into the grid. Wind development in Idaho has been growing exponentially, and we at Idaho Power know that it is important to assess how this will impact our customers today and tomorrow. Our public outreach campaign is aimed at shedding light on developments in the energy industry and educating consumers on what these changes will mean to them. A crucial component of this campaign is the website you mentioned – Like you, I encourage your readers to visit the site, read the blog posts, and leave comments. Better still, submit your own blog post through the Contact Us link.

    The ad pictured in this post was not “hurriedly withdrawn,” as stated. This campaign featured one print ad per week for three successive weeks. The ad above was the second of the three, so it ran just once and was subsequently replaced with a third ad. As for being a “spin machine for wind,” nothing could be further from the truth. The site is a platform for Idaho Power’s views as well as the views of others. We are trying to foster a community for thoughtful, civil discussion on these issues and all parties are invited to the table, regardless of whether their opinions align with our own. Mr. Boone, it sounds to me like this is a subject you’re passionate about and I invite you to join in the conversation.


  3. ztower says:

    Readers John and Joan Terry contacted me and asked that I post this comment on their behalf.

    Comment begins:

    Wind turbines in the Pacific Northwest have an interesting problem. Last fall, my wife and I visited numerous wind farms across the mid and northwestern states. Last month we continued our observations in Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and Utah. Although we passed through Idaho on the first trip, we did not seek out any wind farms there, but we have spent a lot of days among them in Idaho’s neighboring states as well as almost neighboring Alberta, Canada. We were on the road for eight weeks in the fall (in the months of August, September and October) and four weeks last month (April).

    It should be more than apparent to anyone who will take the time to look, that there really is a great deal of time when the wind doesn’t blow, even in what is touted as the windiest parts of the US and Canada. While I can appreciate the desire for non-polluting renewable electric power, I have to wonder why folks think that it is practical to expect it to come from the wind. In late August/early September in Alberta, Canada, we happened to visit several wind installations on two very calm days. Only a few of the wind turbines were turning and oddly were facing at angles to each other. Again in Idaho’s neighbor, Oregon, we visited the large Biglow Canyon wind farm and other turbine installations adjacent to it in early October. There are a variety of turbine manufacturers represented here. Again, this turned out to be another calm day very much like the weather we’d been having for weeks.

    We were looking for turbines that don’t turn even in a stiff breeze. We have found that, according to our observations, 5% or greater of wind turbines more than several years old will be stopped in any given wind turbine instillation. This may be due to the need for periodic maintenance or disrepair. The older the turbines, the greater chance of finding non-operating ones. This is especially prevalent in wind farms that have passed their tenth birthdays. Of course we have only visited wind farms in twenty states and others might fare better.

    The Enron/GE turbines around Biglow Canyon were stopped as were most of the Siemens turbines. There were several rows of Siemens turbines turning slowly, again at odd angles to each other, as well as a handful of Mitsubishis acting in the same way. We were able to drive under one of the Mitsubishi turbines and listen to its motor turn the blades. This may sound strange to anyone who has not spent the time among these giants that we have, but wind turbines actually do consume power from the grid at times. It’s not a lot, but it’s one of those dirty little secrets that doesn’t make for good PR. On this day in Oregon there were, maybe, two dozen turbines that were not creating pollution free electricity, but consuming it. Much of the electric power in the Pacific Northwest (and Canada) comes from hydro. In this case from the Bonneville Power Administration and the Columbia River only a few miles away. The Bonneville Power Administration sells its electricity to eight states in the region including Idaho which as recently as 1995 got all its electricity from hydro power.

    So there we were, watching a mishmash of deflated wind turbines haplessly searching for a breeze, while consuming the renewable energy they were placed there to create. We have observed this same scene played over and over in states and typography as different as Pennsylvania, Texas and Utah, another one of Idaho’s neighbors. Given the high cost of wind fueled electricity, why would states like Oregon or Utah or Idaho, with all those magnificent water resources, invest in a scheme that depends on the wind which, as they say, blows one minute and not the next?

    John & Joan Terry – WV

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