Why wind is a bad deal for taxpayers and ratepayers.

Renewables advocates constantly imply that wind and solar are becoming “competitive” but they fail to include the cornucopia of subsidies, which add up to much more than the value of the electricity produced. When challenged they talk about the “social cost” of fossil fuels, as if fossil fuels provide no benefit to society, and imply that these social costs justify the high cost, human suffering, visual blight, habitat destruction, environmental degradation, loss of local control, etc., so that wind developers and investors can back their trucks up to the US Treasury and say “fill her up”.

A clue to the wind power scam is the appearance of "negative pricing" in the ISO-NE wholesale market.   When the wind is blowing and there is little demand, wind developers actually bid less than $0, or in other words, pay the grid to take their electricity.    In order to get paid for its RECs, worth about $40/MW, and take advantage of the $27/MW PTC it has to sell its electricity to someone.  Assuming a percentage of its electrons are sold under a PPA at $80/MW (some PPAs are higher and some are lower),  and the rest could be bid into the real time market,  the real value of its electrons would be $40+$27+$80 =  $147/MW, so the wind developer could bid negative -$100/MW and still make $47.   See the chart below from the ISO-NE system monitor on 3/13/16.  

Another good indicator of the negative impact of renewables on consumer prices is the rapid increase in ISO-NE capacity payments relative to energy payments. Capacity payments are made to generators for just being there, whether or not they are producing power.  Baseload and other dispatchable generators that have the ability to ramp up and down with demand are essential for grid reliability.  Wind and solar receive minimal capacity payments because they are not dispatchable and do not add to grid reliability.  As more intermittent sources come online we are seeing that capacity payments are skyrocketing and may soon eclipse energy payments. Capacity payments have gone from $1 billion to $4 billion in the past 5 years, while demand has been stagnant and wholesale prices have fallen.  In the same 5 years wind turbines have spread over 100 miles of Maine's scenic mountain ridges, with no end in sight - unless the legislature acts. 

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Comment by Dan McKay on March 16, 2016 at 9:33am

The utility who has entered the PPA with a wind developer pays 8 cents per kilowatt at time of output, but at negative prices has to pay the wholesale market for entrance of this output. Is your utility buying wind power through a long term contract ? CMP and Emera Maine do and Eversource of Massachusetts buys the bulk of wind power in Maine which has led to the highest electric prices in New England.

As a price taker in the day ahead market, wind suppresses the clearinghouse price for other generators which led ISO-NE to establish a forward capacity market to entice new generators to be built with two nuclear plants going down. The new generator offers so far are wind and natural gas, a lethal combination to the pocketbooks of the ratepayers.

Comment by Penny Gray on March 16, 2016 at 7:10am

If only the newspapers would help educate Mainers instead of brainwashing them with wind industry propaganda.  This is going to impact those who can least afford the added burden of high energy costs and drive business out of the region.  What's happening in Europe will soon be happening here unless the legislature rights these wrongs.

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Maine Center For Public Interest Reporting – Three Part Series: A CRITICAL LOOK AT MAINE’S WIND ACT (excerpts) From Part 1 – On Maine’s Wind Law “Once the committee passed the wind energy bill on to the full House and Senate, lawmakers there didn’t even debate it. They passed it unanimously and with no discussion. House Majority Leader Hannah Pingree, a Democrat from North Haven, says legislators probably didn’t know how many turbines would be constructed in Maine if the law’s goals were met." . – Maine Center for Public Interest Reporting, August 2010  http://www.pinetreewatchdog.org/wind-power-bandwagon-hits-bumps-in-the-road-3/From Part 2 – On Wind and Oil Yet using wind energy doesn’t lower dependence on imported foreign oil. That’s because the majority of imported oil in Maine is used for heating and transportation. And switching our dependence from foreign oil to Maine-produced electricity isn’t likely to happen very soon, says Bartlett. “Right now, people can’t switch to electric cars and heating – if they did, we’d be in trouble.” So was one of the fundamental premises of the task force false, or at least misleading?"  http://www.pinetreewatchdog.org/wind-swept-task-force-set-the-rules/From Part 3 – On Wind-Required New Transmission Lines Finally, the building of enormous, high-voltage transmission lines that the regional electricity system operator says are required to move substantial amounts of wind power to markets south of Maine was never even discussed by the task force – an omission that Mills said will come to haunt the state.“If you try to put 2,500 or 3,000 megawatts in northern or eastern Maine – oh, my god, try to build the transmission!” said Mills. “It’s not just the towers, it’s the lines – that’s when I begin to think that the goal is a little farfetched.” http://www.pinetreewatchdog.org/flaws-in-bill-like-skating-with-dull-skates/

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