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FERC gives Northwest wind a win in BPA curtailment case

US Northwest wind energy producers have won a major victory in their battle with the Bonneville Power Administration (BPA), the region's grid operator, over curtailments that totalled about 5.4% of wind generation last spring.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), in an order issued Wednesday [ 37-page PDF], directed the BPA to revise its transmission tariffs for wind generators to make the terms and conditions "comparable to those under which Bonneville provides transmission services to itself and that are not unduly discriminatory or preferential".

In addition to providing transmission, BPA markets power from the federal dams on the Columbia River.

Wind generators, including Iberdrola Renewables, NextEra Energy Resources, Horizon Wind Energy and Invenergy Wind North America, petitioned the FERC after their turbines were forced to shut down during periods in May and June when high river flows and high winds caused generation on the BPA system to exceed electricity demand.

The BPA refused to compensate the wind generators for the value of the lost tax and renewable energy credits during these curtailments, estimated at about $2.1m. Power from the federal dams was used to fulfill the wind generators' energy deliveries.

The FERC declined to address whether the BPA should pay generators to voluntarily curtail production as a remedy to over-generation.

The BPA must file a revised transmission tariff within 90 days.