Seriously, utilities, buy wind NOW (yes, this year)

This blog was written by John D. Wilson, former Deputy Director for Regulatory Policy at the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy.

Guest Blog | August 18, 2016 | Energy Policy, Wind

Really, it is time to buy wind energy. This is very simple.

Wind costs less than running natural gas power plants. Keep the power plants. Use them, we’re not saying they aren’t needed.

But it is cheaper to buy power from wind projects than to run your power plant full-out. Look at this amazing forecast from Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.

Yes, this really says that it is cheaper to contract for wind power today than to generate electricity using natural gas. And in the future, under every single gas price forecast from the US EIA, wind is cheaper.

Here’s the kicker: the blue wedge only represents various forecasts of natural gas prices. It does not include the total costs associated with new construction and operation of a natural gas plant. If those costs are added in, wind power has an even greater cost advantage compared to both new and even existing natural gas power plants.

Who could buy this wind? We know that the Tennessee Valley Authority, Georgia Power, Alabama Power and perhaps Duke Energy are all considering purchases of renewable energy. Plus many more of the smaller utilities are in active negotiations or solicitations for renewable energy. If they make the buy, these data indicate that these utilities should see an immediate and likely permanent reduction in rates for their customers.

Utilities in the south that miss out on 2016 – The Year of the Wind aren’t just missing out on a great opportunity for their ratepayers, they risk losing billions of dollars in wind energy savings as the tax benefits begin to phase out in 2017. More on this tomorrow, including the reasons for urgency, from Simon Mahan …

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