Clean energy is blowing in the wind in the Pacific Northwest! That’s right, this month, the Bonneville Power Association reported that it reached a renewable energy milestone with respect to its utility customers in Washington and Oregon. On August 6, peak wind power was achieved for an hour when more than 2,000 megawatts (MW) were generated by wind turbines in the eastern portions of the two states during that time period.
To put this incredible amount of energy into perspective, 2,000 MW is enough to power the cities of Portland and Seattle for the peak wind power hour. That is, over 1.1 million people that could have entirely unplugged from fossil fuel-based electricity!
From the official press release, consider this:
In early August, for the first time, the Bonneville Power Administration’s transmission grid reached a milestone, carrying more than 2,000 megawatts of wind power for more than an hour. On Aug. 6, after flirting with the 2,000-megawatt threshold for weeks, total wind generation on BPA’s system blew right past that level at 5:15 p.m., reaching a new all-time peak of 2,089 megawatts at 6:19 p.m. This doubles the peak of 1,000 megawatts recorded in January 2008
The Columbia River Gorge is tremendously windy, as well as scenic. The mighty Columbia divides the southern portion of Washington State from the northern border of Oregon. Its ample wind resources make this area a haven for windsurfers, as well as home to several notable wind farms:
New wind farms in Oregon and Washington produce clean, renewable energy (image (c) Stephanie Hicks)
As a Central Oregon resident, I’ve seen the many of the new wind farms being constructed recently. It is truly awe-inspiring. Though privately-owned,the 22 wind farms that contributed to the peak wind power record, are connected to BPA’s transmission grid. They stand as silent sentries over the Columbia River, sprouting like corn fields in the rural areas.
While clean energy is blowing in the wind, the new milestone is just the beginning. BPA Administrator Steve Wright predicts that they will triple that amount of peak wind power – 6,000 MW – in the next 5 years from their renewable energy facilities. The acting Transmission Services senior vice-president, Brian Silverstein says:
“Wind power is growing rapidly in the Northwest. It’s the largest source of new power in our system. Within just a few years, we’ve seen more wind projects come on line, and BPA has been working quickly to connect the new projects into the regional power grid.”
BPA is building new high-voltage transmission lines to carry the clean energy produced by the wind farms. In addition, the agency has constructed five substations and six taplines to tie wind farms into its transmission grid; more are on the way. The first of fourteen meteorological stations to help wind forecasting is on the way, as well.
Obviously, the agency has faith in the future of wind power. And, just maybe the answer to the question of how we will continue to power our lives, while reducing the effects of global climate change, is blowing in the wind….