Wind Power Comes of Age

Wind power is not only the fastest growing source of electricity in the U.S. Wind's best kept secret is that it's also the cheapest source of electricity. From my latest stories in Sierra Magazine:
Wind power, which has plenty of construction and maintenance costs but no fuel costs at all, now ranks among the cheapest energy sources, according to separate analyses by the U.S. Energy Information Agency and the global investment bank Lazard, whose annual Levelized Cost of Energy Comparison is an industry staple. And that's not because of federal subsidies and credits. The latest figures show that when the effects of subsidies that all energy industries receive are stripped away, wind power beats everything else, natural gas included. This dramatic calculation has been largely left out of the nation's energy debate, allowing the image of wind as expensive and impractical to persist.
Many states are investing heavily in wind, such as Iowa, where farmers like Randy Caviness have turned it into a second crop. Twenty percent of Iowa's generating capacity is now wind-based.

According to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, there is enough prime windy land—away from cities, suburbs, and environmentally sensitive areas—to produce all 4.1 million gigawatt-hours of power that the United States generated in 2011 nine times over. That's a lot of low-cost power left on the table. Makes you wonder who's behind the recent anti-wind campaign to convince Americans that wind is too expensive and inefficient...