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The Texas wind power experiment

The great state of Texas has been about as successful as you can be with incorporating wind power into their electric grid.  The system works from an engineering standpoint.  However, financially it’s been a bust.  As AVFTA has pointed out many times, wind farms are mostly subsidy farms, and this is certainly true in Texas.  I could respect Texans for their flinty independence if they would stop sucking down federal money to feed their windmill habit.  Scientific American has a profile on it.  The “money” quote is from page 3:

the real price of wind power [is] more than $100 a megawatt-hour.

The best nuclear plants make electricity for less than a third this cost,  coal and gas a bit more depending on the particular technologies involved.  Once again, and as I’ve said many times, green gadget energy will eventually triple your power bill.  Generalizing this to a cost ratio of three-to-one seems to be fairly realistic because it keeps popping up when real world energy bills are compared.

How can this be?  Isn’t the fuel cost for wind zero?  Answer: The windmill itself is very expensive to install and maintain, and it requires special accommodations to tie it into the grid.  More importantly, the wind doesn’t blow all the time, so all the other generation sources have to be kept on hot standby for when the wind dies down.  That’s why every windmill you plug into the grid drives the price of electricity up.  Sure, there’s no fuel cost.  But all the other costs are so bad that even with a freebie on the fuel bill, it’s just not competitive.

So at last, there really is a case of, “here’s air, now give me money.”  The day the feds cut off the cash spigot going to Texas windmills, fortunes are going to be lost on one of America’s most audacious speculation schemes, speculation which was ultimately not about energy, but about the politics of federal subsidies.  And the way the Democrats in Congress are spending money, that day might not be so far away.

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