The Bonneville Power Administration (BPA) on Friday asked the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) for a rehearing of a decision it made last December, when it ruled the Pacific Northwest–based federal agency discriminated against wind generators after the BPA curtailed wind power when high river flows hit the region last May and June.

FERC on Dec. 7 granted a petition to a group of owners of wind facilities in the region, saying the BPA used its market power to “protect its preferred power customer base from costs it does not consider socially optimal.” FERC also directed the BPA (under authority granted to it in Section 211A of the Federal Power Act) to revise its curtailment practices—its so-called “Interim Environmental Redispatch” policy—and to file a revised open access transmission tariff with the commissions within 90 days.

Meeting a procedural deadline that responds to ongoing litigation, the BPA on Friday said it sought regional settlement as the best option to address power oversupply issues in the Northwest and asked FERC to reconsider its order on its Interim Environmental Redispatch policy.

As the BPA describes it, environmental redispatch addresses challenges faced by the BPA when spring snowmelt leads to substantial hydropower production, which, combined with wind power production, can lead to more electricity being produced than there is demand for. “Under these circumstances BPA must make difficult choices that have proven to be highly contentious.”

“We continue to believe that a solution developed in the Northwest by regional parties is the best path forward,” said BPA Administrator Steve Wright, who added that the BPA supported a continuation of informal settlement discussions with affected parties. One reason that developing a regional solution is especially important concerns time limitations. A resolution is needed before the spring snowmelt season and expiration of the interim policy on Environmental Redispatch on March 30, 2012, the BPA said.

“With or without a settlement BPA must adopt a new policy,” it said. “A regional settlement provides a far better foundation for continued integration of renewable resources than continued litigation.”

Besides settlement, “any new policy seems likely to lead to even more litigation that may stretch for many years,” the BPA said.

Sources: POWERnews, BPA, FERC