Secretary Chu On Ways to Use Surplus Renewable Energy

In addition to expanding the power distribution network, the U.S. Energy Secretary also sees roll for electric vehicles.

Published: 09-Feb-2012

Last year I wrote about sudden surges in renewable energy that set up a conflict between wind producers in the Pacific Northwest and the Bonneville Power Administration, a federal agency that runs hydroelectric dams and the regional grid. When unseasonable storms created a simultaneous surplus of wind and water, Bonneville gave free power away but still had to deal with an oversupply that could overwhelm the grid.

Eventually it resorted to unplugging the wind machines because routing excess water around its dams could create excess bubbles in the river, hurting salmon. The Federal Energy Regulatory Administration eventually ruled that Bonneville had been wrong to unplug the machines because this was discriminating against the wind producers, and this week, Bonneville proposed a monetary settlement with them.

Bonneville proposes to share the damages incurred by the wind producers, who not only lose the value of their production when their machines are turned off but also the federal production tax credit.

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