Wind power: it’s not free

A letter from a citizen in today’s Wichita Eagle makes the case that electricity generated from coal is less expensive than electricity from wind. I don’t know if the writer’s numbers are correct. Considering all costs, though, it is true that wind power is very expensive.

Here’s something from the American Wind Energy Association: “Over the last 20 years, the cost of electricity from utility-scale wind systems has dropped by more than 80%. In the early 1980s, when the first utility-scale turbines were installed, wind-generated electricity cost as much as 30 cents per kilowatt-hour. Now, state-of-the-art wind power plants can generate electricity for less than 5 cents/kWh with the Production Tax Credit in many parts of the U.S., a price that is competitive with new coal- or gas-fired power plants.”

Note that it takes a taxpayer-provided subsidy to make wind power competitive in cost with coal. This is at odds with claims made by some that once the wind plant is built, there’s little cost.

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