Looking at the genuine cost of wind

The 1889 Institute, an Oklahoma state policy think tank, has published “Wind Energy in Oklahoma: A Costly Solution in Search of a Problem.”

Authored by professor of economics and energy expert, Robert Michaels, of California State University, Fullerton, the study is a look at Oklahoma’s electrical transmission and wind generation situation. The analysis strongly suggests that “the utility-scale wind industry will not survive in competitive power markets unless it is subsidized.”

“I must say doing this study opened my eyes to the remarkable job the Southwest Power Pool is doing in making the technically difficult and costly adjustments that must be made to accommodate wind generation,” said Dr. Michaels. “The SPP has done its job so well that, along with the federal production tax credit and Oklahoma’s zero-emission tax credit subsidies, it has masked the true costs of wind power,” he said.

The Southwest Power Pool, or SPP, is in charge of coordinating electrical transmission across all or parts of seven states, including Oklahoma. It is the entity that makes sure electric power demand and supply is always equal, using market mechanisms to keep electricity prices low.

“The thing that stood out to me in this study was that the SPP has more excess generation capacity than any other such region, making investments in wind power all the more inefficient,” said Dr. Byron Schlomach, economist and Director of the 1889 Institute. “Dr. Michaels also makes it clear that the real-world tradeoffs involved with wind power make it neither the cleanest or cheapest alternative right now, because wind power’s necessary back-up is dirty, fossil-fuel generation,” said Schlomach.

Oklahoma State University entrepreneurship professor, Per Bylund, wrote a discussion of the negatives that result from tax credit subsidies. And, CATO Institute climate expert, Paul C. Knappenberger, discusses the modest, but expensive, impact of wind power in reducing CO2 emissions in the report.