The Texas Public Policy Foundation has released a report titled Texas Wind Energy: Past, Present, and Future. It doesn’t have a catchy title, but the report is full of useful information about wind energy. Here’s a little bit from the executive summary:
The distinction between wind and wind energy is critical. The wind itself is free, but wind energy is anything but. Cost estimates for wind-energy generation typically include only turbine construction and maintenance. Left out are many of wind energy’s costs—transmission, grid connection and management, and backup generation—that ultimately will be borne by Texas’ electric ratepayers. Direct subsidies, tax breaks, and increased production and ancillary costs associated with wind energy could cost Texas more than $4 billion per year and at least $60 billion through 2025.
Wind, like every other energy resource, has its pros and cons, and there is no doubt that wind power should be part of Texas’ energy supply. Texas needs a variety of fuel sources, plus concerted efforts at conservation and efficiency, in order to meet its energy needs. However, wind energy should only be employed to the extent it passes economic cost-benefit muster. Instead of subsidizing private wind development and imposing billions of dollars in new transmission costs upon retail electric customers, Texas policymakers should step back and allow the energy marketplace to bring wind power online when the market is ready. Texas electricity consumers will reap the benefits of such a prudent path.