BigWind is NOT Cheaper than Coal: Obama ignores facts

Share this everywhere and educate others!!!….

Wind advocates frequently argue that wind power has competitive prices. Recently, PolitiFact even granted a rating of “True”—its highest rating—to President Obama’s claim that “in Texas, wind power is already cheaper than dirty fossil fuels.” Let’s ignore for a moment that the word “dirty” could be ascribed to nearly any industrial process, including the process used to mine materials for and manufacture wind turbines. On the question of wind power being cheaper than coal, Obama’s statement could easily have received a rating of “mostly false” under Politifact’s rating system because, as Politifact defines that rating, “[t]he statement contains some element of truth but ignores critical facts that would give a different impression.”

Obama’s statement and Politifact’s ruling both ignore three critical facts that would give a different impression:

1.) the cost of unreliable (intermittent) sources of electricity like wind cannot be compared directly against the cost of reliable sources like coal (also called “dispatchable” sources by industry insiders),

2.) intermittent wind power actually imposes costs on dispatchable sources by robbing them of production without replacing their generating capacity (which is critically important to grid reliability), and

3.) the evidence shows that the all-in cost of wind power, including the costs imposed on reliable power plants—as opposed to subsidized prices wind producers receive—is significantly higher than the cost of electricity from existing nuclear, hydroelectric, coal, and natural gas plants.

In short, the idea that wind power is cheaper than coal power falls somewhere between a meaningless statement and a myth.

Intermittent Resources Like Wind Are a Separate, Lower Class of Electricity Generation

Wind turbines only generate electricity when the wind is blowing, and it is a fact of life that the wind is an inherently unreliable source of energy. Wind power’s intermittency is a well-known limitation and a significant drawback, especially because the large-scale battery storage required to make wind a reliable resource isn’t commercially viable.

Nevertheless, wind advocates breeze through the fundamental problems of intermittent, unreliable energy and attempt to sell the idea of a wind-fueled future on the fiction that wind power can compete head-to-head with reliable sources of power like coal, nuclear power, or natural gas. In fact, the Politifact piece specifically mentions the argument that “wind-generated electricity can’t (or shouldn’t) be price-compared to electricity generated by fossil fuels or nuclear sources.” However, it appears that critical point did not sway Politifact, given the “true” rating it assigned Obama’s comment. We should note that the argument was put forth by the co-author of a groundbreaking IER study on the cost of electricity, Tom Stacy, who was involved in a lengthy email conversation with the Politifact author attempting to convince him such a comparison (of wind to coal) is bogus.

IER is not alone on this point. The Energy Information Administration (EIA)—a fair referee in this arena—has issued the same warning for years. EIA actually separates dispatchable and non-dispatchable resources in its LCOE calculations and warns that “caution should be used when comparing them to one another.” In essence, dispatchable plants “whose output can be varied to follow demand” (e.g., coal, natural gas, nuclear, etc.) are more valuable than wind turbines “whose operation is tied to the availability of an intermittent resource.”[1]

Because wind cannot dispatch power in response to demand, the electricity it produces is less valuable, and its cost should not be compared directly against dispatchable resources like coal, nuclear power, or natural gas without serious caveats or significant adjustments to factor in the cost of battery storage.

Wind Power Imposes Costs on Reliable Power Plants

Last year, IER released a report on the levelized cost of electricity (LCOE) from existing generation resources, a first-ever look at the LCOE of the existing sources on the grid as opposed to new resources. Crucially, the report also introduced the concept of the “imposed costs” created by intermittent resources. The report went one step further and estimated those costs under modeled scenarios to find that one megawatt-hour of wind production imposes a cost of $29 on dispatchable generation from natural gas plants.

The concept of imposed costs is not intuitive, so here’s an example. Suppose a power grid consists of only combined cycle natural gas plants that are allowed to operate freely and satisfy the second-by-second electricity demand on the system. Then, even though the system has enough dispatchable capacity from the natural gas fleet to meet demand, we decide to introduce new, intermittent power from wind turbines.

The natural gas fleet is still needed for those frequent times when wind output is low or zero,[2] but it has to back down to accommodate the intermittent wind generation. In other words, its production is crowded out by the intermittent wind generation. Lower production from the same capital-intense facility is the source of “imposed costs”—wind generation significantly raises the LCOE of the dispatchable resources on the system. By decreasing a reliable power plant’s run time without also reducing its fixed costs, wind power makes it more expensive to generate electricity from existing and new dispatchable resources. [3]

The phenomenon is shown graphically below. New wind production causes the natural gas fleet’s capacity factor to drop from 87 percent to below 60 percent. The imposed cost of wind power in this scenario is nearly $30/MWh, a cost that should be attributed to wind.

LCOE Chart 2

Analysis of the Full Levelized Cost of Electricity Shows Wind is Not Cheap

The summary table of our LCOE report shows that, when the imposed costs of intermittent resources are taken into account, the LCOE of wind is not competitive with other new sources—especially combined cycle natural gas—and is nowhere near competitive with existing coal, nuclear, hydro, and natural gas resources.


By accounting for imposed costs and adding them to the LCOE for wind power, IER’s report allows for more accurate comparisons between dispatchable and non-dispatchable sources.[4] Under a true apples-to-apples comparison, new wind resources are nearly three times more expensive than existing coal resources.

The article also overemphasizes the importance of wholesale prices for wind power. Wholesale prices don’t take into account the lifetime costs of building and operating a generation resource, nor do they factor in the multiple subsidies that wind producers receive (e.g., federal wind PTC, accelerated depreciation rules, federal loan guarantees, Renewable Energy Certificates, state and local utility property tax rebates).


PolitiFact’s assessment of wind power’s affordability ignores critical facts that would give readers a different impression. By its own standards, we rate Politifact’s conclusion regarding Obama’s statement “mostly false.”…

Source: News Flash: Wind Power is Not Cheaper than Coal – IER


BigWind attacks Newsweek. Did they divert attention FROM the facts

Newsweek created quite a stir this week when AWEA ‘called them out’ for not vetting a college prof who wrote an op-ed piece about problems with wind energy. The attacks thrown at them, along with the defensive position that Newsweek has, subsequently , taken the story away from the facts. But isn’t this what BigWind is all about? Diverting you AWAY from the facts? The comments below this article are enlightening and chock full of facts. We have share some with you…

Texas prides itself on being a national leader, whether it be in barbecue, football or wind energy. That’s why when someone misguidedly attacks one of our strengths—as Randy Simmons did in an opinion article republished by Newsweek last week—as a Texan, I can’t remain silent.

Simmons’ op-ed on the “true cost of wind power” is the same tired slant we have heard from fossil fuel interests time and time again, which should come as no surprise when you learn who’s really behind the piece. Simmons lists his title as professor of political economy at Utah State University, but he doesn’t mention he is the Charles G. Koch professor of political economy. He’s also a senior fellow at the Koch– and ExxonMobil-funded Property and Environment Research Center. In other words, he works for oil companies.

So let’s expose this op-ed for what it really is: a fraudulent attempt to discredit clean, affordable wind energy and protect polluting coal plants….

Comment thread:

Kevon Martis: The author also disingenuously paints a false either/or scenario with respect to wind and fossil fuels. The truth is far different: wind energy binds ratepayers to fossil fuel generation in perpetuity, particularly gas-fired generation like that the produces more than 50% of Texas’ electricity. AWEA board member GE made that clear in testimony to the Obama White House: 

“Energy generation from renewable sources like wind and solar have zero
emissions and very low variable cost of generation. However, if flexible
generation assets, such as gas turbines, are not available, these renewable
technologies will not be deployed. In other words, gas turbines are an essential
component of renewable energy sources’ ability to penetrate the market.”

And no one knows this better than the “fossil fuel front men” that inhabit the board of the American Wind Energy Association:

Duke, E.On, AEP, Invenergy, FPL/NextEra: wall to wall fossil fuel.

That’s at least 3 strikes against this totally deceptive author….

Bruce Morgan Williams: FALSE. Recent studies by NREL, LBL, PJM, GE, and several universities have proven that we can integrate large amount of renewables and reduce fuel consumption significantly. It’s already happening. You post some political editorial BS that ignores real world data, and I post links to in-depth industry studies by grid operators.
You are either a Rube of a Shill (If you’re not sure, you’re a Rube)

Kevon Martis: Bruce Morgan Williams Actually the quote is from GE. You do know they are the biggest US wind turbine manufacturer and an AWEA board member? And the PJM study stipulates billions of dollars of new gas-fired generation right up front.

And it was done by GE as well.

The NEWIS study for ISO-NE (also by GE) says the same thing: gas is needed to integrate wind.

And NERC is saying the same thing about CAISO: Assessments DL/NERC-CAISO_VG_Assessment_Final.pdf

Now show me where I posted editorial BS Bruce.

“Generating electricity from renewable energy rather than fossil fuels offers significant public health benefits. The air and water pollution emitted by coal plants is linked to breathing problems, neurological damage, heart attacks, and cancer. Replacing fossil fuels with renewable energy has been found to reduce premature mortality and lost workdays, and it reduces overall healthcare costs.”

Here is another whopper.

Notice how this quote conflates “coal” with “fossil fuels” and health impacts?

Here is the deceptive part: the alleged health impacts from coal emissions are derived from PM2.5 and/or Hg emissions. But natural gas-a fossil fuel- emits essentially none of those.

This author appears to be determined to deceive his audience at every turn….

Interesting that the wind promoters have decided to talk about water use in the generation sector as if reducing that use would end droughts.


“When talking about water for power generation, two important terms must be explained and understood: water use and water consumption, said Dr. Susan Stuver, research scientist with the Texas A&M Institute of Renewable Natural Resources (IRNR) and Texas Water Resources Institute (TWRI).

“If you’re using water and putting it back where it came from, it’s water use,” Stuver said. “A power plant is not consuming millions of gallons; it just needs (the water) once and then puts it back, and keeps using the same water over and over again.

“Water is drawn from the reservoir, used to cool the power plant and is then returned to the reservoir where it can therefore be used for other activities such as habitat for wildlife or recreation.”...

The problem is that wind energy costs at least $80/MWh to produce and often much more in many markets yet can only save $25-35/MWh of coal or gas fuel costs. In the meantime it is reducing the profitability of existing dispatchable power plants which normally would be fine if wind were a replacement technology for coal or gas generators. But it is not. Wind energy has a parasite/host relationship with primarily gas fired generators and when the parasite siphons off enough of the revenue stream of it’s requisite host it either dies-thus killing wind too-or the host demands new revenue removed from energy sales to keep it alive and the grid stable. That is a poor economic construct.

John Thomas Jordan Jr: Sorry not buying in. I don’t have a problem subsidizing renewable resources of any kind, we already subsidize traditional energy directly and indirectly. I also don’t have a problem with using all the above. As we develop more and better means of storage which won’t happen if there is no demand the reliance on other types of energy will shrink and the market will determine who is the ultimate winner.

Kevon Martis: John Thomas Jordan Jr. I see you are a union guy. Consider this: the steel industry spends $18 billion per year on electricity. They employ 100,000 people who are largely union. A 10% increase in the price of electricity takes $18,000/employee/year off the table for fringes and benefits. Wind energy’s wholesale PPA price is typically 80-120% higher than the wholesale value of electricity in most markets. Good luck with that next pay raise…

David Davila:  live in the Banning Pass, where wind power has been for decades. I really wish those that support it take a very close look at the existing farms here. Many are obsolete and don’t even work. They can’t be upgraded easily, all foundations, structures and wiring must be removed before an upgrade, that’s why many owners just walk away and abandon them. Many leak oil like a sieve that blows all over the desert. I also read these articles and wonder whether the authors ever calculate the energy deficit that they start with. +/- 5 tons of copper, +/- 80 tons of steel and +/- 150 gallons of oil and there are many other materials need as well that increase that consumption of energy before they produce a single watt. These materials were not mined, created or smelted using wind power. The authors do not even mentioning scraping vast amounts of pristine desert, local wildlife be damned. Want a permit for a large construction project? Good luck. Want one for a wind or solar farm and they can’t write them fast enough. Nice job looking at numbers and linking to them, horrible job taking all factors into account…

The True Benefits of Wind Power.

BigWind Lobbyists tell us ‘half-truths’

Summer/Winter Wind

The Institute for Energy Research released an analysis of a recent report by the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) on negative pricing and market distortion. AWEA’s report is part of an all-out effort to convince Congress to renew the wind production tax credit (PTC), the wind industry’s lucrative subsidy that expired at the end of 2013. But AWEA’s desperate attempts to revive the PTC rely heavily on misinformation and half-truths. IER’s analysis found:
  • Wind producers are paid the equivalent of $35 per megawatt-hour in PTC subsidies (often as high as the wholesale price itself), so a wind producer taking the PTC can still profit even when they pay the electrical grid to take their electricity—a phenomenon known as “negative pricing”.
  • By encouraging these predatory negative prices in wholesale electricity markets, the PTC wreaks havoc on baseload or “around-the-clock” generation such as nuclear and hydroelectric power.
  • The impacts of market distortion and negative prices are already being felt. Dominion Resources closed its Kewaunee Nuclear Plant in Wisconsin 20 years ahead of schedule, and Entergy announced that it will close its Vermont Yankee Nuclear Plant later this year.
  • Because the PTC hurts zero-emission nuclear power most severely, the subsidy is losing its environmental justification.
  • Energy experts from organizations across the board recognize the destructive impacts of PTC-related market distortions—from the New York Times to non-partisan policy groups to government agencies.

The wind production tax credit enables predatory market distortions that undermine the reliability of America’s power grid and defeat the environmental justifications some have made for keeping the PTC. AWEA’s recent report relies on misleading information to obscure the worrisome long-term effects of the PTC…

To read the full analysis, click on the link below…

To set the record straight, this article addresses some of AWEA’s flawed arguments and glaring omissions. The PTC, while incredibly valuable to owners of wind power facilities, hurts U.S. taxpayers and undermines the economic efficiency and physical reliability of the U.S. power grid….

via Institute for Energy Research | AWEA’s Bold Push for More Wind Welfare.

Don’t worry, USA, Canada will sell us electrical energy when our BigWind won’t blow

St. Leon, Canada

Canada is showing common sense. They have pulled the plug on a proposed  wind project after a finding that “”Manitoba Hydro has determined that the capacity value of wind generation within Manitoba to meeting the winter peak load is zero,” Zero?! No kidding!! Hydro said in a report to the PUB,  it doesn’t really matter what it costs if it isn’t there when you need it.   But the point is that all wind turbines must be backed up by conventional generation.  Additionally, it is important to note that we will be IMporting electrical energy from Canada. Energy that is currently NOT IMported! Below there is a reference to selling this hydro power to the USA, where a number of coal plants will be retired. This point cannot be driven home hard enough to our politicians, who get it wrong every election cycle. The USA IS ELECTRICALLY INdependent. We have coal, nuclear, natural gas and hydro -but- if you close our coal plants and make us plant thousands of turbines, we WILL need energy from other countries. Sickening… 

The plug has been pulled on a proposed 175-megawatt wind farm near Manitou that would add more alternative energy to Manitoba and be a boon to farmers, a U.S. firm said….

Proponents say Manitoba Hydro is concentrating on building two new mega-generating stations in the north and believes wind is unreliable during our cold winters.

CPV’s decision to pull out of Manitoba comes as the Public Utilities Board studies Hydro’s bid to build the Keeyask and Conawapa generating stations and a new transmission line to the United States. Hydro says the three projects will cost about $20 billion, but should pay for themselves with increased electricity exports to the American Midwest, where a number of old coal plants are being retired….

In filings to the PUB, Hydro has said wind generation isn’t dependable enough to expand it beyond the St. Leon and St. Joseph wind farms, which together are capable of delivering 233 megawatts of power.

“You can’t count on the wind blowing at the time you need the energy,” Hydro consultant Dean Murphy told the PUB at a recent hearing.

Hydro said it examined the performance of the St. Leon and St. Joseph wind farms during the peak-load hour of each month from June 2007 to May 2013. It found the minimum wind generation during the peak-load hour each month was zero or near zero.

“Manitoba Hydro has determined that the capacity value of wind generation within Manitoba to meeting the winter peak load is zero,” Hydro said in a report to the PUB….

via Plug pulled on wind farm – Winnipeg Free Press.