Elliot Mainzer Talk Notes from TEDxPortland

Elliot Mainzer
VP Corporate Strategy Bonneville Power Administration
  • Knows the power grid better than anyone else in America
  • For anyone who has recently driven east, you’ve seen a huge proliferation in wind turbines.
  • The amount of wind energy connected to the grid has increased by a factor of 7. It’s enough to power 7 cities the size of Oregon.
  • Why?
    • We now have laws to require a certain percentage from renewable.
    • There are federal tax credits.
    • We have sufficient line capacity to carry it.
    • Hydroelectric is the perfect backup to the variable output of wind.
  • Huge economic stimulus. Brought new innovative companies to Portland.
  • “That’s Franklin D. Roosevelt for any of you that don’t recognize him” --- WOW! We have people who don’t recognize FDR?
  • We see situations in which we have oversupply: electric has to generate to prevent overspill, and wind has to generate all the time to get credits.
  • As wind energy increases...
  • How do we maintain reliability of the system, manage the change.
  • Working on improving wind forecasting.
    • Wind energy can vary massively over the course of several hours, going from max to zero.
  • We’ve tapped out hydroelectric’s ability to flexibly react to demand. So now we’re adding gas turbine to handle flexibility.
  • Now we’re going to the demand side. 
  • If it’s 3am, and you have a surplus of wind electricity, you send a signal to people’s hot water heats to heat up, and soak up some of that extra electricity. (The heat is conserved in the heater, saving the energy that would have otherwise gone to waste or stretched the reliability of the system.)
  • Now we’re increasing the size of the area in we can load balance - spanning from British Columbia to California and New Mexico.
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