Posts Tagged ‘Fairfield Wind’
North American Windpower: Alberta Breaks Wind Power Record, Then Does It Again
- Published on Wednesday, 30 July 2014 03:05
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Alberta Breaks Wind Power Record, Then Does It Againin News Departments > New & Noteworthyby Joseph Bebon Tuesday July 29 2014print the content itemCanadian province Alberta broke its wind generation record not once, but twice, last week. Between 11 a.m. and noon on Thursday, July 24, Alberta produced an average of 1,188 MW of wind power. The province then surpassed that on Friday, July 25, peaking at an average of 1,255 MW between 9 a.m. and 10 a.m. Before last week, the previous record was set on May 29, with an average of 1,134 MW.Angela Anderson, a spokesperson for the Alberta Electric System Operator AESO, explains that the most recent records were due to a combination of very windy days and new wind farms. Specifically, she says the 300 MW Blackspring Ridge project, which went online in Vulcan County in May, “allowed the system to produce more wind than ever before.”According to the Canadian Wind Energy Association CanWEA, Alberta is home to over 1.4 GW of installed wind capacity and ranks third among the country’s provinces. Tim Weis, the association’s Alberta regional director, says the new wind production records are certainly noteworthy.“This is significant, not only because it was just this past April that Alberta broke the 1,000 MW plateau for the first time, but [also because] Alberta’s electricity system is showing that it can integrate large amounts of wind energy seamlessly,” states Weis.He also mentions that the AESO lifted a 900 MW threshold for installed wind capacity in Alberta in 2007, and now wind production has peaked at over 30% more than that original limit.Furthermore, it appears wind power is poised for growth in Alberta. “There is a lot of interest in wind development in the province, and that’s expected to continue over the coming years,” comments Anderson. She says the AESO currently has 15 active wind projects totaling about 2.1 GW in the grid operator’s connection queue.Overall, the AESO anticipates wind capacity to nearly double over the next 20 years from approximately 1.4 GW to 2.7 GW. “In fact, by 2034, we are forecasting Alberta will have more wind power than coal-fired generation on the system.”Nonetheless, Weis says most new power generation in the province will likely come from natural gas, not wind. “Alberta is facing two issues simultaneously,” he explains. “First of all, federal regulations require that coal units retire when they reach their 50th birthday. Alberta’s market is over 60 percent coal, and the first units will start to hit their 50th birthday this decade.“At the same time, Alberta’s system operator is forecasting significant growth in electricity demand over the next two decades, largely as a result of the growing oil sands industry. Several independent forecasts suggest that the vast majority of new electricity supply will come from natural gas to fill this gap.”Weis points out that the price of wind power isn’t the reason, though, as the AESO estimates wind energy within 7% of gas costs. The truth is, natural gas is simply easier to build in Alberta’s electricity market because “it can more easily bid into the market and respond to changes in future costs.”But there’s a problem: Weis says forecasts suggest a big switch to natural gas will eventually undo the environmental benefits gained from closing down coal plants, with greenhouse-gas emissions starting to increase again in just over a decade.Weis argues that although the AESO has proven it can handle more and more renewable energy on its grid, the province still needs “a new policy framework that recognizes the benefits of renewables so that we can continue to see wind grow in Alberta.”
NWE seeks to pay indie power producers far less than it asks consumers to pay for dams
- Published on Monday, 28 July 2014 17:14
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July 27, 2014 12:00 am
HELENA – NorthWestern Energy and its regulator, the Public Service Commission, are rightly getting plenty of press on the company’s proposal to pay $870 million for a dozen hydroelectric dams.
But another energy issue involving both entities is flying well under the radar — and has the clear potential to affect small, independent power projects in many parts of rural Montana.
The issue is how NorthWestern buys power from these small wind and hydro projects, which, by law, are entitled to contracts if they meet certain requirements.
When it buys power from these projects, NorthWestern includes the electricity in the mix it sells to its 340,000 electric customers in Montana.
The project developers say their plants offer power that’s sometimes cheaper than what NorthWestern produces, that provides some competition to NorthWestern’s power-generation, and brings development to rural areas.
If the PSC approves the dam purchase as proposed by NorthWestern, customers will be paying the company about $60 per megawatt hour for power produced by the hydroelectric dams it owns.
But in recent filings before the PSC, NorthWestern is saying it should pay the independent projects only $40 a megawatt hour for their power.
This discrepancy has small project owners hopping mad, and crying discrimination. The power company, they say, knows if such rates are approved by the PSC, the small power projects will never be built, because they can’t be financed at that price.
NorthWestern, which has often resisted such projects, simply wants to own as much generation as possible, which means more profit for the company, and discourage any competing, independent producers, they say.
Small-project developers also point their finger squarely at a majority of the PSC, saying it has repeatedly let NorthWestern get away with undermining federal law that requires small projects to be able to sell their power to the local utility, at a fair price.
They note that the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission ruled in March that the PSC has taken illegal actions making it difficult or impossible for some small power projects to get a contract — and that the PSC has done little or nothing to correct those actions.
PSC Chairman Bill Gallagher, a Republican from Helena, says he hasn’t seen a need to rush into a decision, in response to the FERC ruling, and that the PSC must fully consider how
rates and conditions for the small-project contracts will affect the company and consumers.
He also says he has a problem with how federal law grants “preferred status” to small power projects selling renewable power. Competition among projects should be the determining factor, he says.
FERC, however, disagreed, saying the law requires contracts to be awarded at a rate set by the PSC, tied to what the utility would have to pay to buy or develop similar power elsewhere. It said the PSC cannot arbitrarily limit the amount of wind projects that get condtracts, and cannot require projects to enter into competitive bidding that, in reality, seldom occurs, and which they never win.
Still, the PSC appears finally to be moving forward on the issue, likely holding a work session later this summer to respond to the FERC ruling and related items.
Commissioner Roger Koopman, R-Bozeman, says he expects the PSC to change its rules to comply with the FERC ruling and look for a way to treat both the power company and the small-project developers equitably.
“We do not want to send the message that we want to see NorthWestern’s portfolio include their own hydro (plants) but that it doesn’t have room for (small independent power projects),” he says.
NorthWestern also has acknowledged the FERC ruling, but, at the same time, is asking the PSC to lower the price NorthWestern must pay for a proposed 25-megawatt wind project near Fairfield and other projects, to the $40 per megawatt hour range.
Company spokeswoman Claudia Rapkoch says the dams that NorthWestern wants to buy are more valuable resources than the small power projects, and therefore command higher rates.
The company wants to ensure that any power it buys from small producers is at a price that reflects the current market, and can be reliably delivered, she says.
Yet Commissioner Travis Kavulla, R-Great Falls, says actions by NorthWestern seem discriminatory against the small producers, and that he hopes the PSC will take a hard look at the issue.
“I think we need to consider righting the situation so we can be fair to all players,” he says.
Mike Dennison is a state reporter for Lee newspapers.
Wind farms face major challenges across Montana | KPAX.com | Missoula, Montana
- Published on Thursday, 08 May 2014 03:02
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▶ Fairfield Wind Turbine #5 Blade Installation – YouTube » WINData LLC « WINData LLC
- Published on Sunday, 04 May 2014 16:57
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Installing a blade on the hub on Fairfield Wind turbine #5, a General Electric 1.7-100. Work conducted by Dick Anderson Construction of Great Falls.