In highschool, I was concerned with the polluted creek and ponds by my house in Gainesville, Florida, so I pursued a degree in Environmental Health, under the Microbiology department at Colorado State University.  Alternative energy was our hope for the future in the early 70s, and now it is a reality.

I was thrilled when I learned that PGE (Portland General Electric) wanted to build wind towers on our land thirteen years ago. I am not as thrilled now, after ten years of watching these turbines sit idle on windy days, like huge lawn ornaments that are locked down.

Apparently, once a utility like PGE has their tax credits from the government and green power money from its rate payers, they don’t care how much the towers produce.

There aren’t enough lines to run hydro and wind, (a Bonneville Power Association, BPA problem) so the wind towers shut down. Why isn’t PGE screaming bloody murder? Instead PGE tells us they have no idea how much they are being curtailed. That’s on top of the project being staffed only 5 days a week (for years it was four!), eight hours a day, even though electricity production is a seven day a week, twenty-four hour a day necessity. And 10 – 12 towers (out of 217) are often down for maintenance, for days and weeks, running at almost 95% efficiency, PGE proudly claims.

Portland General Electric (NYSE: POR) has more renewable power customers than any other energy company for the eighth year in a row, according to the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL).

By my calculations, this means that PGE has over 225,000 customers who pay extra for green power, over $16 million a year! That is a lot of money for wind energy and their flagship project, Biglow Canyon. Yet I don’t see the project being the priority PGE claims it is.

Our towers have been shutdown much of this year, and payments are half of what we expected. When I ask for numbers, I’m told curtailments are only 9.63% over the entire 4500 megawatts in the gorge, meaning that our towers are only shut down 1-2% of the time. Not true. Bonneville Power (BPA) has had massive curtailments this year, and we’re guessing they are shut down more… closer to 30% of the time. I say guessing, because no one will give us numbers and that leaves me questioning whether PGE is operating in good faith.

I am fed up with bureaucracy and public utilities. If we ran our farm the way PGE runs their Biglow Canyon project, we would be broke.