Integrating Renewables

The PNW is blessed with abundant hydroelectricity and we are now seeing rapid growth in another type of renewable energy source — wind power. But the wind does not always blow. How can we make best use of those wind turbines?

Here in the Pacific Northwest, we are lucky. Hydropower from dams such as the Bonneville or Grand Coulee supplies the majority of the region's electricity. And with new wind power plants added across the region, our power generation is becoming even greener. When the wind is blowing steadily, combined with large amounts of spring snow melt from the mountains moving through the dams in the Pacific Northwest, earth-friendly renewable resources are plentiful. Sometimes that can be too much of a good thing — an over supply of electricity with nowhere for it to go. Other times, the wind doesn't blow at all, producing no energy.

Integrating renewable energy is a core objective of the PNW-SGDP. That's why we are testing a new signal that will tell you when renewable energy is online so you can benefit from clean energy when it's most abundant. Together with Smart Grid equipment installed throughout the region, it will help to absorb fluctuations in wind and other variable resources.