A reasoned look at wind power

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.

4 Comments

  • Friends and family that I have in Texas and Oklahoma come up here to Kansas and here is the first thing they say. “Damn! This is the windiest state I have ever been in!”

  • I work for Westar and all the laborers know that the only reason Westar has got into the wind busness is for the political advantage it has given them with this govenor. The costs though will be passed on to us the consumers.
    A side note also is most people don’t relize that the state of Kansas gives a life time tax abatement to wind energy. Wish I could get in on that for my home.

  • Wouldn’t that be concurrent with how the taxpayer and rate payer paid for ALL power lines that connect current power producing facilities and customers. Seems to me to be an amazing chance for distributed power generation (and profits). Municipalities that own towers can gain a degree energy independence and reduce peak load. Once the towers and lines are in place then it is maintenance costs the wind stays free and coal cost continue to rise.

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