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Wind and Renewables

Wind power is a zero-emission energy resource with no fuel costs, but it is also quite variable and less predictable than traditional energy resource options. This increases the need for more flexible resources or loads to keep the grid balanced.  Historically, our hydro system has served that role. However, our rivers must also support other objectives and uses, so there is not enough hydro reserves available to support all the wind resources.  Currently, almost 4% of the Northwest’s electricity comes form wind.  Other nations with strong commitments to wind energy are approaching and exceeding 20% of their electricity from wind. If we want to increase the role of wind and other renewables even further, the Northwest must explore a host of new energy storage options and find new ways to “green up” the electric grid.  

We will explore several of these “cutting edge” approaches. For example, we will examine the role the Northwest Power Pool might play if it decides to proceed with a regional “energy imbalance market”, the role the Western Interconnections and regional transmission organizations (including ColumbiaGrid, the Northern Tier Transmission Group, and WestConnect) might play, the emergence of the smart grid, demand response, distributed generation, an energy imbalance market, dynamic scheduling, and other strategies.