Bonneville Power May Shut Down Wind Turbines To Protect Salmon


John Day dam and fish ladder. Image credit:NW Council

Just to be clear, this is not about protecting Boeing 'Salmon Thirty Salmons' from turbine blades (but don't let on to Fox News).

Because of the deep mountain snow pack in the US Pacific Northwest, it will be a great year for hydroelectric power generation. That's the good news. Bad news is that hydro-electric dams were designed for more typical flows; and, only so much extra water can be let over the dam or migrating salmon will get the bends. So...Bonneville Power has to optimize the amount flowing through turbines. Because the regional grid can only handle so much power, wind turbine operators in the area will be asked to throttle down to allow more hydroelectric turbine generated electricity to flow: hence my headline. The national political upshot is outlined below.

As you can readily see by reading several of the comments posted on the Spokesman-Review story on this issue, Caldwell: Bonneville power plan creates buzz in industry, this proves the worthlessness of wind power. Rush and Fox News will no doubt agree.

What can you say?
No one ever thought high voltage transmission lines would have to be upgraded and expanded to handle wind farm outputs, right? I mean...what a surprise.

The blessing of an unusually wet year following a series of dry years...that will go on forever, don't you think?.

People apparently are unaware that these hydro facilities were built from start to finish with taxpayer money - when everything was perfect and government did not intrude in imaginary Leave-It-To-Beaver lives- and at the time it hadn't really dawned on anyone how difficult it would be to balance power generation with flood control and fishery management interests. Life has changed, as it is known to do from time to time, enough that something else has to be balanced in the public interest.

I am reminded of a fellow I once heard testify at a public hearing that 'a flood is water where it shouldn't be.' At the time, we water resource professionals were trained to smile and move to the next person up. Now, such notions are the stuff of headlines and quickly become talking points for political leaders.

How much longer before salmon fly?

Tags: Oregon

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