Investing In Clean Power,
Paying For Dirty
Three New Projects Could Sextuple Oregon’s Wind
July 06, 2006 - Dan Richardson - News West
Electricity, the spark that lights our civilization,
comes mostly from the dams and coal plants in
Oregon. But wind power - less reliable, but infinitely
cleaner and less-impacting - is making small steps
towards Gov. Kulongoski’s 25 percent power goal
by 2025. All of Oregon’s wind power is generated
just east of the Columbia Gorge, on the windy
heights in Sherman County and points east.
week, encouraging news comes that more wind turbines
are on the way, with two new wind power projects
announced to be online by the end of 2007. Together,
the projects - Klondike III by PPM Energy and
the Biglow Canyon Wind Farm by Portland General
Electric - will triple the state’s wind-generation,
to more than 700 potential megawatts.
project - Shepherds Flat Wind Farm, planned by
a California company near Arlington - would double
the state’s wind power capacity again, to nearly
1,500 megawatts. Sounds impressive, and promising.
But all the projects, at full capacity (which
wind power rarely is) satiate our power appetite.
Not yet, anyway: The Dalles Dam has a peak generating
capacity of 1,780 megawatts.
And there are three
other Columbia River dams in Oregon alone, not
to mention the coal-fired power plants. Ah, coal,
you warm our homes and dirty our air. Also in
recent good electricity news, Oregon’s Department
of Environmental Quality is backing off its weak-kneed
mercury pollution plan for the infamously dirty
coal-fired power plant near Boardman, and pledging
to draw up tougher standards.
the only price we pay for power: The Yakama Indians
are considering legal action against the U.S.
Army Corps of Engineers - the builder and operator
of The Dalles Dam. The dam not only inundated
native villages, say the Yakama, but also salmon
spawning areas, and its turbines have killed juvenile
fish for 50 years. Says one tribal official, “We
want an accounting for that.”