There Is Too Much Electricity in the Northwest

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After this long winter, spring's warmth has begun to melt all that pesky snow. In the Northwest, the resulting runoff helps power everyday life. Only this year there's too much power for them to handle.

The waters that came with spring went on to overwhelm the Federal Columbia River Power System, creating so much electricity that it's threatening service and rates for the millions of customers in the region. So what did the Bonneville Power Administration, power provider to a full third of the Northwest, do? They cut wind power, deciding it was the easiest and safest way to solve the overgeneration problem.

Wind power advocates are pissed, as the disruption of wind power hurts their bottom line:

Since May 18, the decision has disrupted operations at 35 wind farms with more than 2,000 turbines stalled almost daily in the Columbia Gorge along the border of Oregon and Washington. Those generators have contracts with BPA to transmit wind power. Now, they are tallying ongoing losses already in the millions.


They argue that BPA's policy, even in the midst of a bad situation, only stands to benefit. What's more, rural communities suffer from the loss of revenue from wind farms. Even salmon are harmed by excess water being allowed to flow over dams.

Both sides are still at loggerheads on how to solve the issue. It seems the federal government will soon have to step in. [The Atlantic, Image via Shutterstock]