16. March 2023 · Comments Off on Ag and Rural Caucus Call to Meeting, March 16, 2023 · Categories: Committee News, Recent Events
Ag and Rural Caucus
Cascade Renewable Transmission
Carol Loughlin
6:30 pm Thursday 16 March

Elegant and Creative

Folks in the Tri-Cities think that Ice Harbor dam is theirs…that the power generated by its turbines stays in Pasco. They judge, contrarily, that electricity from the proposed wind project in the Horse Heaven Hills will go directly to Seattle.

Neither idea really works. What is true is that power moves. It may energize an Amazon warehouse in direct line of sight of a wind turbine, or it may light up a hospital in south Los Angeles. It moves through cables and substations. Right now, power supply and power demand are pretty much in balance.

Move the time dial ahead, though, and we see a pinch point between east and west. Fossil fuel generators in Centralia, Chehalis, and Satsop – all west of the Cascades – are going away. Vehicles are moving to Chevy Bolts and Tesla’s, most of which are driving west of the Cascades. Building codes are moving to electrical heat pumps, replacing natural gas in homes in Seattle. On the other hand, data centers and logistic hubs locate in Arlington and Pasco.

Demand for electricity is growing mostly west of the Cascades; generation is exploding east of the Cascades.

We live in a regional economy and energy needs to move – through a grid.

The problem is that this grid needs to join east and west; it needs to cross through the Cascades. Cascade Renewable Transmission has an ingenious idea that uses an existing route through the Cascades. It just happens to be a river, the Columbia River.

A friend in the energy industry calls the idea “elegant and creative.” Judge for yourself. Join us to indulge your curiosity, wonderment, and your doubts.

14 March 2023

A Sleeper issue?

Is our PNW power grid a sleeper issue? Yes, and no. The “yes” is that solar and wind headlines are about homeowners upset by seeing windmills on the horizon, about solar farms built on “disturbed” ground (i.e., farmland), about fencing out elk migration routes, about the life cycle of turbine blades, about how many jobs are created and much tax money will come to the county, about local authorities being overruled by bureaucrats in Olympia, and about rural Washington subsidizing Puget Sound elites. To mention a few items.

The “no” is that the grid is often the driver behind the headlines. The grid is the power lines and towers that link generators and consumers, the rights of way that carve their way round the PNW, and the web of contracts, fees, and compliance rules between the monopolies who own the physical lines and the wind and solar developers who need access to their power customers. 

Sure, wind velocities, sun, and cheap real estate are important. So is ready access to the big power lines. The Horse Heaven project advertises that 
Renewable power projects utilize existing electrical infrastructure more wisely to reduce customer energy costs, minimize the need to build new large transmission lines throughout the region, and deliver energy to end customers in the near term instead of waiting for 10–15-years for transmission projects to be built in order to bring power from far away generation.

Enter the Cascade Renewable Transmission project. It is not enough to hook up the Horse Heaven project to a power line that goes down the hill to the Tri-Cities. The real customers are over the Cascades in the Puget Sound. The Cascades are the bottleneck. “Waiting 10-15 years for transmission project to be built” is wishful thinking. Unless you think really outside the box. And that is what Cascade Renewable Transmission (CRT) is. 

The CRT proposal is remarkable:
The Cascade Project consists of an electric transmission cable bundle, which will be buried entirely underground and underwater, and two converter stations, which will be located adjacent to existing substations. The Project can transfer approximately 1,100 MW of utility-scale wind, solar, and other renewables to help meet renewable energy demand in Oregon and Washington. The Project starts in The Dalles, Oregon and travels approximately 100 miles beneath the Columbia River to the Portland area. 

This is not a sleeper issue. Maybe off your radar but not for long. The CRT proposal is bold – and important. Open your imagination, formulate your questions and join us for a presentation and discussion.

22 February 2023

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