Renewable Northwest Project responds to new BPA wind curtailments

Deems cutting clean energy unacceptable, cites solutions within reach

Portland, Ore. (April 30, 2012) – This week, Bonneville Power Administration (BPA) issued wind power curtailments, a policy the Federal Energy Regularly Commission previously rejected in a December 7, 2011, ruling. Rachel Shimshak, executive director of non-profit advocacy group Renewable Northwest Project, issued this statement:

Given a full year to plan ahead, we are disappointed that BPA is choosing to curtail wind energy despite more equitable solutions within reach. This practice wastes clean and affordable energy while power plants continue to burn coal around the region. BPA’s dismissal of FERC’s open access transmission policy—that all generators should be treated equitably—undermines the long-term policy certainty necessary to attract continued investment in renewable energy in the Northwest.

We do recognize the incremental improvements that BPA is making toward lessening the size of this seasonal challenge. We support efforts like the non-treaty storage agreement with Canada, irrigation pump aquifer recharging pilot and selling hydro energy in advance of oversupply events. While these are positive steps in the right direction, they are not currently being deployed at a sufficient scale.

BPA has not advanced its biggest opportunities to resolve over-generation: it should work to power down the nuclear plant for refueling each spring, collaborate with fish experts on additional responsible spill, and simply pay the prevailing market price, which sometimes goes negative and is a common practice in most electricity markets across the country. BPA could also better pursue advance agreements with coal generators beyond its balancing area to share the Northwest’s abundance of clean, renewable energy west wide.

While we are optimistic about some progress, there is still much work to be done to ensure fairness on the system, certainty for businesses and optimal clean energy usage to benefit our communities and environment. Solutions are within grasp, and we look forward to working with BPA and the region to achieve them.

Renewable Northwest Project is a regional nonprofit advocacy organization promoting the responsible expansion of environmentally responsible renewable energy resources in the Northwest. For more information, visit

Stay informed

Take Action

Subscribe to the American Clean Power blog and receive the latest renewable energy news, policy updates, and opportunities to get involved.