Two utilities take different paths to the top in wind

  • Article by: DAVID SHAFFER , Star Tribune
  • Updated: March 31, 2012 - 4:12 PM

MidAmerican Energy is building vast wind farms. Xcel Energy has mostly purchased its wind power.

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notaxmaxApr. 1, 12 9:58 AM

Together, Xcel and MidAmerican Energy have a 17 percent share of the nation's wind power capacity. That's enough to power 2.5 million homes That statement, taken from the article, is very misleading and represents what is wrong with wind energy reporting. In my view, proponents of wind power need to slant the facts or outright lie to consumers to make us believe that wind is the great viable energy source that they say it is. We should be able to make up our own minds and can't do that without facts. If any of you, as consumers, are interested in the real stats for wind generation look up ERCOT, The Electric Reliability Council of Texas (the Texas grid manager). They have a web site showing real time output of all of Texas's 10,250 MW of wind generation. I have seen generation go as high as 65% and as low as 1%. ERCOT uses a reliability factor of 8% (800 MW) during peek summer air conditioning season to predict throttle controls on their standard turbine output. I was once a wind detractor but I am slowly becoming a wind defender. 10,000 wind turbines in desolate and windy west Texas (population about one person per 10 square miles) make logical sense, provide jobs, there are few bird kills because there are few birds etc. I am still not sold on wind in Minnesota however. When it takes 200 square miles of Texas land to produce 800 MW during heavy summer useage and our local coal fired Sherco plant produces 1800 MW predictably it makes me wonder if wind is a fit for Minnesota and if the high cost of wind generation is worth the trouble. When articles like this omit or slant a lot of cold hard facts it is tough to make an educated choice.

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akmscottApr. 1, 1211:25 AM

It's gotten impossible to disagree with anything on this website.Unless you have a green-liberal view, your comments-no matter how you state them, never show up.Great job of censorship Strib!

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kingjulienApr. 1, 1212:25 PM

"...want to own wind farms so they can get a return on their investment, rather than simply passing the cost of purchased power through to customers..." The French company Enexco was the developer on both of the Xcel owned projects (Grand Meadow and Nobles). Enexco or their bank got the $1 million per turbine federal 1603 cash grant from tax payers and any "return on investiment". Great River Energy, the second largest utility in MN, states the MN wind mandate cost their primarily rural rate payers an additonal $70 million just in 2011. There is NO public benefit to industrial wind - NONE.

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kingjulienApr. 1, 1212:32 PM

"In 2010, it purchased the Nobles Wind Farm, near Worthington, Minn., but last year decided not to buy one in North Dakota..." Like Grand Meadow, built (or to by built) by French company Enexco. Both Grand Meadow and Nobles have had numerous catastophic electrical failures starting within months of these brand new projects going on line. Read the MPUC edockets. Electrical failures by brand new electrical "generators" - not a good use of tax and rate money.

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kingjulienApr. 1, 1212:37 PM

"The first Xcel wind project, near Lake Benton, and others that followed in the 1990s and early 2000s, were built and owned by independent power companies,..." Primarily built by Enron Wind before its demise for ...??!!! And because wind is unpredictable and often produces when there is no demand on the electrical grid, Minnesotans have been paying these early Buffalo Ridge projects for NOT producing when their power would crash the grid.

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kingjulienApr. 1, 1212:47 PM

"...federal production tax credit, saving 2 cents per kilowatt hour..." The PTC is 2.2 cents. This does not save citizens money - it is from tax dollars - citizens pay both taxes and electrical rates. In January 2012 Xcel said, "Without the [PTC] subsidy, the cost of wind energy will soar, Xcel regional vice president Laura McCarten said. "Rather than $40 a megawatt hour it would be $70 a megawatt hour, which puts it much more expensive than say, natural gas," McCarten said. The cost difference is already borne by tax payers.

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kingjulienApr. 1, 1212:58 PM

"It's like driving a used car with no payments," said Beth Soholt, director of Wind on the Wires. Beth, just getting the two cranes to the site and set up to replace constantly failing bearings starts at $200,000. Wind is a solution that does not work, for a problem that does not exist. Wind produces electricity that cannot be stored at times when it cannot be used at great financial and environmental costs. Wind DOES NOT create the promised environmental benefits and is a net jobs killer. Lisa Daniels at Windustry says "its for the greater good" and the D.C. wind lobbyists call citizens and wildlife destroyed by industrial wind "policy roadkill." How can ANY honest sane person support industrial wind?

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highlife75Apr. 1, 12 3:09 PM

The government says you have to have this, and lots of it! Whats a power company to do? I guess go along with what the government wants and demands, that regulates you, the poor saps that pay for it will be the losers. Will the tax payers also be part of the subsidy for the horrific cost of maintenance on the horizon? Just starting to pay for CAPX2020 for the transmission grid for this dispersed generation, not to mention standby carbon based generation to allow for the instability wind creates on the grid? But I guess it is fashionable, so never mind the expense or the detrimental impacts.

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