Yes, we’ve poured billions of tax dollars subsidizing the building of massive wind farms throughout the Columbia River Gorge. And now the turbines are being turned off because they’re producing too much power. And we’re paying them to shut down!
Wind farms in the Pacific Northwest — built with government subsidies and maintained with tax credits for every megawatt produced — are now getting paid to shut down as the federal agency charged with managing the region’s electricity grid says there’s an oversupply of renewable power at certain times of the year.
The problem arose during the late spring and early summer last year. Rapid snow melt filled the Columbia River Basin. The water rushed through the 31 dams run by the Bonneville Power Administration, a federal agency based in Portland, Ore., allowing for peak hydropower generation. At the very same time, the wind howled, leading to maximum wind power production.
Demand could not keep up with supply, so BPA shut down the wind farms for nearly 200 hours over 38 days… [Emphasis mine]
…Now, Bonneville is offering to compensate wind companies for half their lost revenue. The bill could reach up to $50 million a year.
The extra payout means energy users will eventually have to pay more.
Of course they will. And most people aren’t happy with the solution. Even environmentalists think it’s a bad idea — not because of the waste of money, energy, or resources, you understand, but because it looks bad for business:
“It sends a very poor signal to the market about doing business in the Northwest,” said Rachel Shimshak, executive director of the Renewable Northwest Project. “We want the Northwest to be a good place to do business.”