Friday, November 2, 2007

The Real Cost of Wind Farms

Today, the Denver Post published an editorial celebrating the wind and solar power initiatives in Colorado. In the process, they appear to have let the cat out of the bag on the costs of these enterprises.

This author left a simple math comment at the bottom of that editorial questioning the Post's math. The Post claimed that it cost $166 thousand per megawatt to build a wind power plant in Weld County. The author misplaced a decimal, meaning that the cost was actually $1.6 million.

Worse, the wind only blows about 30% of the time, meaning that they built a 90 megawatt (less simple and more accurate math) equivalent power plant for $500 million. That works out to $5.5 million per megawatt in construction costs.

A conventional coal plant, again according the the Denver Post, costs $250,000 per megawatt to build. That is less than 1/20th of the price of this wind farm.

Consider that the Colorado legislature has just mandated that by 2020 20% of utility power must come from "renewables." How many $500 million plants that only intermittently produce power will it take to meet that goal? Many more than Colorado can afford.

Mark Udall tried and failed to impose that same goal on the whole nation this summer. He was voted down. At some point, taxpayers and ratepayers will start doing the math and realize that Mark Udall and his band of merry environmentalist extremists are much like Hillary Clinton, but with less honesty. At least she admits that she has more ideas than the country can afford.

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