1. “With a generating capacity of 343 MW, […generated in a random fashion, perhaps 20% of the time,…] the wind energy facility is expected to […occasionally…] provide clean power for more than 100,000 homes[… when the wind decides to blow….].”
      I had a great idea, Kit, how to make wind reliable! Why don’t we buy and complete WNP-1, build a fan for every wind turbine, and hook all the fans into WNP-1’s output? That way we can get the best of both worlds. We can have all the clean, green wind power that we want – on a reliable basis (assuming the fans and the windmills don’t break) – plus a unique food source – think of all the migratory birds pre-processed by our “Avian Cuisinarts” – undoubtedly a new market opportunity. I bet we can even get agricultural subsidies for our fowl-dicing operation to go along with our wind power subsidies and feed-in tariffs. The subsidies would be incredible to behold, maybe upwards of $0.50/kwh. After all, the law says that the power produced has to be from wind. The law doesn’t say the wind can’t be generated by other power sources!
      Just think of all the interest groups we could featherbed (using the feathers from the migratory birds, no less) with that kind of government money! Oh, and the billable hours! The billable hours! We can retain 1000 lawyers to write thousands of environmental impact statements using these subsidies! Lawyers, ftw!

      1. While I certainly endorse finishing the two nuke plants at Hanford to replace aging coal plants, this has nothing to do with wind turbines that reduce the amount of NG burned thus lowering the cost of electricity.
        For any that are worried about migratory birds, I asked some folks at the Audubon Society when we working on land preserve near Hanford. They over there no, over there ok (pointing to the dryland wheat fields that became the home of ENW wind farm).
        Just like new nuke plants, wind farms require a EIS. ENW has a map of wind resources. They have blocked out where environment factors and political preclude a wind farm.

        1. KIT – Are you trying to reduce CO2 or increase NG use? Wind use INCREASES NG use PERIOD.
          AND, since these NG Generators are “saved” to offset loss of wind, they are wasted capital in the ROI equation. If you are saving generation capacity you are not selling it. I have seen my utility sell electricity for 100 times the customer paid rate to surrounding utilities. Once sold you cannot call it back as most contracts require you to then pay a penalty of twice what the buyer was paying you or twice the replacement cost – whichever is higher.
          The integration problem of wind is horrendous!
          Wind is like living on the top of a large hill and riding a bicycle – great ride to work, but you have to push it all the way back home.

          1. Rich, I am not trying to do anything other than explain the that Rod does not know what he is talking about wrt the PNW. Kind of like the junk science link you provided. See Rich I know when somebody is like is just repeating stuff they heard.
            For the record making electricity is a challenge. Just because we make it look easy does not meant that it is. Cold winter nights and hot summer days are a particular challenge because that is when things break. In the PNW, integrating wind is not a challenge on hot summer days. There is no wind to generate electricity.

            1. Kit P: “… In the PNW, integrating wind is not a challenge on hot summer days. There is no wind to generate electricity.” Yep, 100% backup from somewhere else, probably the 775MW of OCGT that PSE owns.
              How about this “junk science” link: http://bravenewclimate.com/2010/04/28/a-gassy-vision-2/
              Wind comes down to a very simple analogy: would you hire an employee who works 25-30% of the required hours ON AVERAGE, but is totally unreliable as to when he is going to show up and how much he’s going to do if he does decide to come to work? Only if the Federal Government gave you tax credits or cash up front in such quantities that you could hire on-call temporary workers to back this slug up and still make money. Unfortunately, multiple state governments, either by legislation or initiative, have required utilities to “hire this guy” because he’s “cool”.
              Unlike Rod, I have lived in the PNW, in a little town called Bremerton, where I was the Reactor Electrical Assistant on the USS NIMITZ (CVN 68). The REA is one of the principal assistants to the Reactor Officer (a post-command Commander position), responsible for all the electrical and electronic components in entire propulsion plant, from reactor controls and safety systems to ship’s service and emergency power generation. Like Rod’s position as a Chief Engineer on a sub, I am/was engineer-qualified by Naval Reactgors. So, like Rod, I know more than a little about operating and maintaining an electrical generation and distribution systems.

  1. Kit – I do not think that your links contradict anything that I wrote. There is a lot of wind capacity being installed and operated. It just is not operating very well or playing nicely with the rest of the grid without a significant amount of intervention by the system operators.

    1. Let me be more blunt Rod. You are ignorant of the region and how the grid is manged. Your conclusions are silly.
      I can see Rod as engineering officer telling the captain that changing the ship’s speed was too changing for his watch officers.
      Heaven forbid that BPA would actually think about meeting a challenge of providing reliable and economical electricity. After decades of mismanagement that was not noticed because of the large amount excess power BPA came up with a solution. Put lots of people out of work and sell the electricity to California to keep hot tubes warm. BPA was inept before the first wind turbine went up.

  2. Hydro Quebec got lured into the same sort of thinking on the Upper North Shore, where there were good wind resources off the Gulf of St. Lawrence, and a bunch of older hydro plants that had water inventory issues late in the season. Not only have the ones installed not lived up to promise, but the local opposition to the wind farms has bordered on violent.
    Again I say: The current models that are being used to predict the performance of wind installations are terribly flawed, and need to be reworked.

    1. DV82XL – I have been collecting the weekly reports from the Bonneville wind web site that report power output from their wind installations on a 5 minute time scale. I started this effort in February, so I have about three months worth of springtime data. So far, the average output is about 930 MWe with a maximum power capacity of 2660 MWe for a CF of 35%.
      That is not too bad, but remember, the three months of data are for a single season. I will keep collecting and tabulating. I wish there was an existing repository, but as far as I can tell, the BPA web site only has week long reports available.

    2. Look at the before and after pages for the Elk River Project. Here -> http://www.macalester.edu/windvisual/elkriverinfo.html
      Greenlight Energy of South Carolina and HMH Energy Resources of California joined in a partnership to develop the second large scale wind farm in Kansas. The companies planned to site one hundred General Electric 1.5 MW turbines on nearly 8,000 acres of private land.
      Do the math – 8,000 acres for 150 Mw of power (name plate) actual output would be closer to 50 Mw.
      Palo Verde generates 3,875 on 4,000 acres and they are designed for 6 or more as I recall.
      Let us assume that wind somehow becomes twice as efficient and you can put them twice as close together (which actually gives a factor of 4) then you can get 2 X 4 X 50 = 400 Mw in that 8,000 acres they have at Elk River. AND you would only need 24,000 acres to make the same power as Wolf Creek, and 80,000 acres (about 125 miles square, i.e., 12.5mi X 10mi, about 1/10 of Rhode Island) to make the same power as Palo Verde (numbers approximate.)
      When will people wake up?

  3. Excellent analysis Rod! I have been sending the link to the BPA wind graphs to every news organization I can trying to get some interest in a real world case. As you said, with all of the Hydro power the area is ideal for taking advantage of wind power. Did you notice that even though many of the peaks reach near capacity, the average is less than ~30% – and you picked a good week. What happens when the enviro-lawyers discover that the utilities are not meeting their 20% RES power requirements? Do the utilities then build enough RES so that average output, instead of installed capacity, is up to 20%? Who is going to pay for that – or is that where all of the millions of “green jobs” come from?

  4. For many years I lived in Richland Washington and sailed on the Columbia River. My boat is still there and I plan to retire there in a few years. If your perception of this part of the PNW is Seattle or Denmark you could not be more wrong. The inter mountain PNW is a semi-arid region. High plains surround the river valleys.
    While you can not see the wind farms in these pictures, they are on both sides of the Columbia River.
    When I lived in Richland, my electric bill showed that 50% of the mix was from Powder River Basin coal. The coal trains goes by where I sail the same time every day. Not as many as in Virgina or the Midwest, but the fine folks in Portland and Seattle do not see them so they and you can enjoy whatever fantasy you want.
    The first wind farm was 39 MWe. It was in Oregon close to where the Columbia River turns north and no longer is the boarder between Washington and Oregon. The second wind farm was the 400 MWe. State Line just to the east. Then ENW (operators of Columbia generating station) built 69 MWe project on the Washington side of the Columbia River turns.
    At that time natural gas was very cheap. Several large NG fired power plants were built. However, things changed and NG got more expensive. Suddenly wind generated power was cheaper than NG generation. PSE built two more large wind farms based on economics before state RPS or federal PTC.

    1. Kit – you did not put a date on your statement about the wind farms. When were they built? Are you sure they were before the PTC came into effect? The federal PTC was started in 1992.

      1. The Federal PTC was not in force most of the Clinton years and Washington State did have a RPS. This was about 10 years ago. Most of the wind farms at the time were being built in Texas which did have a small RPS. You may have heard of the governor at the time.
        Again Rod let me point out that each energy project should be judged based on its own merits. This is why I agree with the national policy under Bush of a consistent federal PTC and leave it up to states to determine if they want a state RPS. In the case of Washington State, the RPS came after PSE had built two large windfarms.
        When I lived in Washington State I supported the building of wind farms in dryland wheat fields. However, in Virgina I would object to the Blue Ridge Parkway becoming a access road for wind turbines.

    1. So I live in a cesspool, but when you are in your chosen retirement area you will have to hold your breath when passing a feedlot and when the wind is in the wrong direction so that it blows the gases from the pulp mill?
      There is no doubt that the DC area is too full of people. I work here because that is where I was ordered to work.

      1. Rod that is the odor of people working for a living producing what people need. Not everyone can strut around DC disrespecting productive people.

        1. You have a real chip on your shoulder son, and if you think that everyone here can’t see it, you are sadly mistaken.

          1. Hell, DV8, don’t we all?
            I seem to recall something about someone saying, “let he who is without sin cast the first stone.”
            Kit’s just consistently ruder than most.

            1. That may be true, but I have yet to run into any other commenter that is so consistent in his personal attacks, or at least framing everything as a personal attack as this guy against a blog owner, that doesn’t give up after a while, and disappear. Kit has some sort of problem with Rod for one reason or the other, that goes well beyond the matters at hand, and it shows through.

    2. Took me a little while, but I’m surprised that you didn’t say that everyone living in/around Richland should be holding their breath when the wind blows from the NNW, considering the proximity to the Hanford site.

  5. So wind is max in Spring when Hydro is max. That means either Hydro or Wind will be thrown away. This effectively drops the capacity factor of Wind to maybe 20%. So Wind is max at night, demand is low, dams are full, worthless energy that must be dumped on the market at rock bottom price. Denmark is now having to PAY to have its Wind Energy accepted (negative floor pricing – Nordpool).
    Now, demand is max in mid afternoon, market electricity price is max, Wind is Nil, Hydro storage has been depleted the previous week because Wind was low. Now precious Hydro storage is Sold at a Low Price, whereas without Wind it would be sold at a High Price.
    And now they are going to add fuel guzzling OCGT’s, running at their most inefficient, to balance the fluctuating Wind. NG shadowing Wind may use more fuel than NG with no Wind = ZERO BENEFIT from the expensive Wind. See:
    And Pumped Hydro is uneconomic with Wind. Works very well with Nuclear. See comments by Peter Lang:
    …The pumped hydro site would need to be able to accept the maximum output of the wind farm, 225 MW, but the average power that could be stored and sold would be only 48MW…So we would be building a 225MW hydro plant to generate and sell just 48MW average power. Not promising…

    1. You beat me to the links to masterresource and especially to BraveNewClimate. Kit P needs to go read a lot of Prof Brook’s material.
      PSE already added the OCGT’s, purchasing units that PSE had been leasing from GE Capital, when GE Capital decided to terminate the lease upon its January 2010 expiration. Why would PSE buy inefficient OCGT untis, instead of just letting the lease terminate? I think the simple answer is that they need the quick-start capabilities of the OCGT’s. Since PSE is also a major distributor of natural gas, PSE looked at the cost of NG and the cost of ownership of these OCGT units, and decided that it was cheaper to own and operate them that it would be to buy the needed electricity on the spot market. http://newsroom.pse.com/article_display.cfm?article_id=403
      These are not the only OCGT’s owned by PSE: Frederickson (not Frederickson I), Fredonia, and Whitehorn. PSE also owns several CCGT’s, See the media page at http://newsroom.pse.com/mediakit/# .

      1. That is correct Paul, those NG fired power plants were built to provide electricity to meet growing peak demand west of the Cascades Mountains before most of the wind farms. Do you know anything about east side of the Cascades Mountains?
        Paul would you like a list of places I stationed in the navy where I know nothing about the grid based on that experience. I did know that the grid did not like me. Only on my duty day did the grid go away. Sail boats and lighting rather than poor management. The folks from the aircraft carrier did help when my duty electrician was in sick bay after show power control fuse panel blew up. There is no operating procedure for a CGN diesels being hard wired to shore power.

  6. I live in the Pacific Northwest, in the Spokane, Washington area. There are BPA transmission lines through the area that supply several local utility cooperatives, and which used to supply the now-shuttered aluminum smelter in Mead, WA. There is still a fairly large amount of electric space heating in the area, a legacy of when electric rates were low. My house is electrically heated (air source heat pump). So I stay aware of what is going on. Point 1: Winter peaks are quite high due to space heating. Point 2: It is quite USUAL to have stagnant air days (sometimes weeks) during winter that cover most of the wind generation areas. During those times, there is little to no wind generation (just check the BPA data for January this year). Point 3: There have been incidents in the recent past when the stability of the BPA system was threatened due to large amounts of wind generation.
    The system of dams supplying power to BPA and various utilities has long been a source of controversy, especially with regard to the destruction of the salmon runs. Some would like to see many of the dams torn down. I could support this position, provided that the generation capacity was first replaced with nuclear power plants. I think more nuclear plants would be welcomed in the tri-cities area (Kenewick/Richland/Pasco), though I would not mind to see one “in my back yard”.

    1. Good post donb but let explain a couple things to you. Instability on the grid managed by BPA was a serious problem before the first wind turbine was erected. Wind farms are not intended to solve that problem so blaming them for the problems on the wind farms is nonsense.
      In 1996, there was a major blackout on the left coast going as far east as Denver. We only read about it in Richland because we had a BWR that was able to change power quickly on yard switchgear was properly maintained.
      BPA failed to maintain tree trimming on power lines. Hydro unit after hydro unit was lost because switchgear was not properly maintained. Finally BPA was unprepared to manage a system in crisis.
      There was a similar event in the east in 2003. Can not blame that on wind but the same lack of good management was a factor. That blackout did not affect PJM.
      In the PNW there were close calls in January of 2001 (Lock, Davis, Richardson, & Clinton should have been jailed for public endangerment), February 2002, and July of 2006. We knew in the PNW electricity generating industry there was a serious problem years before. Like California, public officials were as clue less as Jane Fonda. I listen to the head of BPA at a conference, she was a clueless lawyer from back east. The head Washington State flunky for electricity thought he would ask his people if there was enough NG for the NG power plants they were planning on building to solve the problem. No we were several thousand MWe short. I worked for the company that was trying to get permits to expand the capacity of the pipeline.
      So how did they solve the shortage of capacity. donb got it right.

      1. I can imagine that WNP-1 would be good to finish, now that NG prices are so high, with or without my fowl/wind idea. Took a look at the site from Google Earth, looks nearly done. (Coords: 46.467223, -119.313622)
        There’s also an unfinished reactor a few hundred yards to the north. A bit worse for the wear, but the foundation and cooling towers have to be worth something.

  7. In late 2009 I moved from Pennsylvania to Washington State. I had the opportunity to make it a road trip, and passed by a great deal of wind farms in Eastern Washington. At the time I was clueless about the different attributes of various energy generation technologies (admittedly still a novice but trying to learn as much as I can), so I felt pretty good about seeing all of the renewable energy employed in my new state of residence.
    Upon receiving my first electric bill I was ecstatic to learn that the per kWh charge was less than half of the rate I had been paying in PA. As it turns out, it’s the highly affordable hydroelectric generating capacity that has much to do with this low energy bill. So I am quite in favor of that Dam and the others supplying Washington with affordable energy.
    However, after doing some lengthy reading on Wind energy generation have come to be quite skeptical of it. It’s expensive, intermittent, and unpredictable. I would rather Washington built new nuclear instead of the NG plants and wind farms. Yes, I know the NG is mostly for peak not baseload, but I think that they can manage the grid with that challenge if they are already able to manage it with the uncertainty wind brings into the equation.
    Kit P – West of the Cascades is where most of the people live, so that’s where most of the energy is required. I’m just saying…

    1. You may want to do some more reading Jason. The electricity produced by the wind farms in the PNW is not expensive. Furthermore, most of it is being sold to California. As a result of California

      1. Indeed I do wish to read more, why else do you think I am here?
        I was up-front about being an energy novice and I’ve lived here for about 8 months, so I’m pretty new to the area, too. So can you help direct me to some of that further reading? I am specifically interested in why you believe new nukes are not an option any longer – I just have no history of this area or knowledge of the politics, but I would love to know the details.
        I also certainly understand why the locals would welcome the job and tax revenue created from wind farms. That doesn’t change the fact that wind is typically at least double the cost of nuclear and coal. I have been a financial analyst and am currently the Assistant Controller of a large industrial gases company, so my qualifications in things financial exceed that of my energy knowledge. I am confident in my cost analyses.

        1. Jason it take a little detective work to find out the cost of generating electricity in specific situations. You have to read annual reports and press releases for contracts.
          When you prepare financial statements, do you use average figures for your industry or do you use actual results for your company? Do you compare apples to oranges?
          For example, base load electricity in the PNW could come from hydro, coal, nuclear, biomass, or CCGT. Load following uses hydro and SCGT (very cheap capital cost but not very efficient). Two out of ten years are drought years. Cheap NG plants may not run very often but they are needed for reliability. Wind farms produce electricity cheaper than SCGT in the PNW.
          The history of commercial nuclear power is dismal in the PNW. With Hanford and Idaho National Labs you would expect a tradition of excellence but failure is what resulted. Trojan was a PWR near Portland that closed early because of operational problems. Energy Northwest used to be called whoops (WPPSS). The tried to build 5 nukes at the same time. Finish WNP-2 (now called Columbia Generating Station ) and defaulted on four. Third world countries have done better building nukes.
          While the average cost of making electricity is very low. Somebody has to be worse than the average and guess who that is? If someone is going to build a nuke in the PNW it will not be ENW.
          The most recent example is the $4b uranium enrichment facility AREVA is building at Idaho Falls. The idea location would be next to AREVA’s fuel fabrication facility in Richland. The governor would not even answer phone calls.
          It is not just nuclear some states are just not business friendly.

          1. Since I work at the company I have access to proprietary information and can develop the most accurate financial models possible. Not having this unrestricted access to different energy generation sources and companies makes it far more difficult to get an accurate determination on the modeling. That said, I am fully capable of reading and understanding every facet of a company’s annual report (since I have been in various jobs that each have prepared different sections of an annual report), so yes, I’ve done it.
            However, in general, it is fairly accurate to develop some models on multiple projects for each generation source, and yes, then you have to average them out. Of course each individual plant in itself will have different financial metrics. Again, after you take enough data points trends become clear and averaging the data points seems to produce fairly good information if you use enough of them.
            The thing with financial analyses in general is that they truly require “sensitivity” analysis – adding in the capability of layering probabilities/ranges of values for various estimates used in developing the model. This then produces ranges of data, thereby giving you an additional set of statistical data to help ascertain the best answer.
            Additionally, many people get very confused regarding the multitude of varying financial data that exists. Quick example – GAAP versus Tax-basis accounting. Sometimes you will hear news releases about financial data and, if you know enough about the details, you can determine if they are discussing a tax-based accounting issue or a GAAP-based one. GAAP = Generally Accepted Accounting Principles, which is the set of accounting guidelines that companies use to produce their annual reports. This DOES NOT, IN ANY WAY, reflect the information prepared on the company’s tax return. Tax-based information is very different from GAAP information, so a company’s tax return will NEVER match it’s annual report (talking public companies here, not private).
            Why does that matter? Because good deal of the intricacies with energy costs revolve around government tax credits, deductions, loan guarantees, etc that impact GAAP and tax books differently. Also, GAAP and tax books seldom have a place in a financial model other than to assess the impact of a decision on the publicly disclosed books. More often than not, the financial models are developed to look at NPV, IRR, ROCE, RACE, and metrics like them. Those types of analyses require revenue assumptions,which I tend to shy away from when dealing in this area where I have access to limited information. So I focus on costs, which is the most readily available data.

  8. I think that this is the lesson of the WPPSS system: better to construct in an incremental fashion, gaining small victories at an inevitable pace rather than the idea that “Oh, yeah, let’s throw everything and the kitchen sink by building 10 plants at once.” Buying in bulk might save, but buying in bulk at once rather than buying in bulk at a predictable rate raises prices, as capacity has to increase to fulfill demand. Then, after capacity has increased to fulfill demand, and the demand isn’t there any longer, the new capacity implodes while the demand realizes they got screwed (unintentionally) by the high costs they were paying to increase capacity. It appears to me that what happened to WPPSS was a failure along these lines, combined with their idea to construct plants of a type they hadn’t built before in parallel. Not such a great idea.
    By constructing serially, you gain experience and thus labor costs are driven down while construction skill and efficiency increases. Slow and steady wins the race. This is what I like about the TVA’s approach as demand has risen in their service area. Grow the supply slowly, finish Watts Bar 1, restart Brown’s Ferry, finish Watts Bar 2, move on to finish Bellefonte 1, finish Bellefonte 2, then think about building Bellefonte 3, 4, etc. Don’t try to build 10 plants at once, or you’ll bite off more than you can chew.
    Always keep building nuclear, indeed, always keep building – but try to keep building at the same modest pace. If that pace has to increase at some point, increase it by a little bit. If it has to slow, then slow by a little bit. Never be suckered into getting on a bandwagon, because although you might win by jumping off at the right time, bandwagons have a tendency to crash, and you don’t know if you can get off in time. Wind is a bandwagon. See how solar has crashed in Spain. The wind crash is coming, I think.
    Be a mature industry. These aren’t the days of the Internet bubble in 1998 through 2000 or the housing bubble. We’re done with bubbles in the US and will be for quite a while, as hard lessons have been learned. Be generous in spirit, conservative in deed, modest in pace, and you’ll win small victories every time that will eventually add up to big victories, while the high rollers will consistently crash and burn.

    1. Dave – one more thought – smaller units make it simpler to follow the approach you lay out. WPPS’s idea to buy and build a large number of units was not the problem; the problem was that the units were each so large that a significant change in the market and some rather high interest rates put the whole order into a risky category. The growth in demand slowed enough to reduce the urgency for completing the units and making their power available. The higher interest costs and double digit inflation of the period did not help the owners ease the carrying costs of slower project development. The changes in regulation as a result of TMI put one more nail into the coffin.
      And then there was the organized, well funded opposition.
      Just think about the potential for making a more resilient 12-unit buy when each unit is just 40 MWe like the Pacific northwest designed NuScale. No wonder Energy Northwest is considering the possibilities.

      1. A good point – for anyone except for perhaps TVA, Exelon, and Entergy, along with the traditional, strongly-regulated and strongly-backed utilities like FPL, TXU, etc – the slow, serial approach to construction couldn’t be done with large plants. Smaller utilities would probably be more interested in SMRs as a slow strategy could be followed with these.
        ENW might start out with a site capable of holding 12 units, but just install 4. As time goes by, slowly add more. The mPower would also be a good deal for something like that. Start with 1 module, increase to 4. The PBMR is another possibility.
        Or even the Hyperion, or the AAE for even smaller utilities, munis and the like.

      2. Nobody should make any general assumptions about the cost of either wind or nuclear power based on the performance of ENW. From 2009 ENW Annual Report:

        1. ENW should look at joining the Utilities Service Alliance – a smaller-utility collective that operates nuclear power plants and leverages resources to reduce costs, specifically addressing refueling outages. Great idea.

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