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Cold front shows promise of wind power

The cold front that moved through the Pacific Northwest and on to the Great Plains a week ago illustrated the promise of wind power if the region’s transmission system is upgraded as planned.

I know that a lot of Idahoans aren’t very excited about wind power right now, based on the results of the Idaho Statesman’s recent poll. And until something changes, Idaho’s wind gold rush is over, due to the elimination of a sales tax rebate, lower natural gas prices and discontented utilities.

But more than 600 megawatts’ worth of wind farms have been built across southern Idaho in the past five years and will be generating power for another 20 years. Maximizing their efficiency is in everyone’s interest, and the cold front gave us a glimpse of how it might happen.

The front came off the Pacific and up the Columbia River Gorge early Tuesday, with high winds that quickly turned up the hundreds of turbines there to full power.

BPA, however, exports a lot of its power, and the region was producing 11,000 megawatts total, including wind, hydro and thermal,China CC Composite Electrode Bolt Manufacturers according to the Earth Techling Newsletter from Portland.

That excess power went to California and elsewhere, to customers who either were contracted for long-term green power or were buying on the spot market.

The cold front arrived in Idaho late that morning and drove the turbines on the new wind farms built across the state to their high gear. Idaho Power reported a peak of wind power generation of 518 megawatts at 3:34 p.m. That is out of a peak capacity of 638 megawatts,China Glass Fabric 420g/㎡, S-glass Fiber, Unidirectional Manufacturers said Brad Bowlin, an Idaho Power spokesman.

For most of Tuesday afternoon and into the evening, wind turbines generated 450 to 500 megawatts of electric energy, about a third of Idaho Power’s load. Then the storm moved east into Wyoming, where it spun Rocky Mountain Power’s new wind turbines for several hours.

Had the Gateway West transmission line that is planned to connect Wyoming to the Hemingway power station west of Boise been built, the entire region could have benefited from the largely stable and predictable wind throughout the day.

Both Idaho Power and BPA have constraints on their hydrosystems in the fall for salmon, and that’s when wind power is a benefit, not a burden. In the spring, when the wind blows hard,China CC Composite Polysilicon Ingot Furnace Thermal System Manufacturers the hydro system is also going full guns because of the mountain runoff. That’s when wind power is a problem for the utilities to handle without more transmission capacity.

But the 3Tier forecasts that perfectly predicted the wind power rise last week showed that utilities will be able to predict and integrate wind power into their systems more easily in the future, especially when the transmission system is complete.



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