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Avista eyes Montana wind energy
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Avista eyes Montana wind energy

Stillwater Wind Farm

Wind turbines at Stillwater Wind facility turn in the evening light in December near Reed Point. Multiple wind farms occupy the area north of Interstate 90 in Stillwater and Carbon Counties.

Colstrip Power Plant owner Avista Corp. is eyeing 300 megawatts of Montana wind power over the next seven years as it determines where its future energy will come from.

The Spokane-based utility included Montana wind energy in its preferred strategy for resources, with 100 megawatts of the capacity coming online in 2023, plus an additional 100 in 2024, and another 100 megawatts of capacity in 2028.

Details were disclosed April 2 in the utility’s 2021 Integrated Resource Plan, which gives regulators in Idaho and Washington a look at Avista scenarios for providing electricity to customers through 2025 and beyond.

Avista has a 222-megawatt share of the Colstrip Power Plant, evenly divided between Units 3 and 4. It faces a 2025 deadline to stop delivering coal power to its Washington customers under the terms of the state’s Clean Energy Transformation Act. The climate law requires utilities to stop delivering coal power to Washington Customers by the end of 2025. No state consumes more Colstrip power than Washington.

Montana wind could help the utility reach that CETA goals. Avista concludes that “200 MW of Montana wind is the most economic new resource to meet the CETA requirements beginning in 2024.”

One of CETA’s requirements is that Washington’s Colstrip owners find non-coal power for the Colstrip Transmission Line between Colstrip and Townsend, or stop billing customers for the line’s costs once the coal ban kicks in.

Monday, Avista’s director of power supply, Scott Kinney, cautioned in an email that Montana wind would still have to prevail in competitive bidding with other resources.

“We are working with a short list of potential projects and hope to finalize contract(s) soon. We will issue future RFPs as necessary to fulfill resource needs. If a Montana wind project is selected through any competitive RFP, then we will use the transmission available at the time to transfer the power to our load centers,” said Kinney.

Avista noted that Montana wind had a more favorable capacity factor than other wind in its portfolio and has also performed well at times when wind in the Pacific Northwest wasn’t at its best.

There is a large wind farm in development near Colstrip. NextEra Energy Resources' wind farm with 750-megawatts capacity, will be three times larger than any wind farm currently spinning in Montana. The company says the wind farm will start generating power in 2022, but will take years to reach full potential. NextEra expects Clearwater construction to create 350 construction jobs.

There are currently 614 megawatts of transmission capacity available on the Colstrip line that was previously used to accommodate Colstrip Units 1 and 2. Those units were closed at the start of 2020, six months after owners Talen Energy and Puget Sound Energy announced the coal-fired generators were no longer economical.

Avista isn't the only Colstrip owner interested in Montana wind power. PacifiCorp built a 240-megawatt wind farm near Bridger in 2020. The $406 million project exports power south into Wyoming and the Rocky Mountain West on the Lovell-Yellowtail Transmission Line. It is the largest wind farm in Montana.

The Pentagon has been using its secretive X-37B space plane to test a solar panel that could one day beam electricity to earth. The Photovoltaic Radiofrequency Antenna Module or PRAM for short is currently the size of a pizza box, but the technology could be scaled up in order to send massive amounts of clean and renewable energy to Earth via microwaves possibly even enough energy to power whole cities. RUNDOWN SHOWS:1. NASA's X-37B space plane orbiting Earth, panel slides open revealing test panel2. Inset box shows panel details, how multiple would connect to form huge panels3. Huge panels attached to satellite that beams microwave energy to Earth4. Microwave energy from satellite is collected by large receiver, turned into electricity5. Electricity from receiver flows via power cables to city, lights city up6. One small panel powers tablet, but multiple combine to power a city from spaceVOICEOVER (in English): WASHINGTON The Independent newspaper reports that the Pentagon has been using its secretive X-37B space plane to test a solar panel that could one day beam electricity to earth. The Photovoltaic Radiofrequency Antenna Module or PRAM for short is currently the size of a pizza box, but the technology could be scaled up in order to send massive amounts of clean and renewable energy to Earth via microwaves possibly even enough energy to power whole cities. The test panel was launched into orbit last year aboard the space plane. It absorbs blue-light energy from sunlight that cannot pass through the Earth's atmosphere. This means it's able to harness solar energy much more effectively than terrestrial setups. The test panel is only capable of capturing and transmitting around 10 watts of energy back to Earth enough to power a phone or tablet. However, if the system scales up successfully, the technology could deliver significant amounts of power to remote regions of the globe, as well as provide electricity during natural disasters and emergencies. SOURCES: The Independent, CNN, Gizmodo, Futurism.comhttps://www.independent.co.uk/climate-change/news/space-laser-satellite-solar-power-b1806680.htmlhttps://edition.cnn.com/2021/02/23/americas/space-solar-energy-pentagon-science-scn-intl/index.htmlhttps://earther.gizmodo.com/the-pentagon-sent-a-pizza-box-sized-solar-panel-into-sp-1846358817https://futurism.com/the-byte/military-tests-satellite-beaming-power-space

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