June 10, 2009

Wyden Challenges BPA's Proposed Rate Increase on Wind Energy Producers

Oregon senator says Bonneville's proposed 400 percent rate hike would make wind projects "downright unaffordable"

Portland, OR - Out of concern for the future of alternative energy in Oregon, Senator Ron Wyden today challenged the Bonneville Power Administration to do a better job integrating wind-produced electricity into its grid, charging that a BPA proposed rate increase on wind energy producers would make wind projects less profitable or "downright unaffordable."

"BPA needs to be part of the solution," Wyden told a wind energy conference in Portland. "I am doing what I can to make integrating wind energy into the BPA's grid easier. I would like to see BPA do that as well in some way other than merely raising rates on wind energy producers."

"The current rate proposal, if fully carried out, could make large wind projects less profitable and community wind projects downright unaffordable," Wyden said.

Speaking to the conference via satellite from Washington, D.C., Wyden said that he recently told Energy Secretary Steven Chu that "I wanted BPA not only to do a better job integrating our own wind farms into its own electric grid, I wanted BPA to become a leader in showing the rest of the country how to do it."

Bonneville Power Administration's proposed 2010-11 wind integration rate would represent a 400 percent increase over current rates.

Wyden recently introduced a package of eight energy-related bills, including one that would address the issue of storing wind-generated electricity by encouraging the development of the facilities and equipment needed to temporarily store the energy for delivery or use at a later time and help manage the flow of wind energy into BPA's grid.

Wyden also added an amendment to the Senate's energy bill that would provide $100 million a year to create a national training program for wind technicians and other renewable energy specialists, such as the one at Columbia Gorge Community College. A second proposal would provide $300 million a year to four-year colleges and universities to encourage more research into wind technology.