Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Minnesota Wind Farms Impressive

With relatives in South Dakota, I've made the drive there from Wisconsin for decades, and in recent years watched the addition of wind turbines along I-90 across Minnesota.

Just returned from July 4th festivities in South Dakota, and the growth in wind machines dotting the landscape across Minnesota north and south of the interstate highway is nothing short of phenomenal.

In each of the scores of turbines visible from the highway, I see more than renewable energy being fed into the grid, which in itself is proof that green power generation is achievable, now.

I see manufacturing, installation and maintenance employment, too.

Makes me wonder why our neighbors to the northwest are so far ahead of Wisconsin in getting so much of this new industry into the ground, and people onto the payrolls, too.

Is it the tax structure, or is it a can-do attitude about energy and the economy, or both?

One industry source says Minnesota leads the states in electricity generated by wind power - - 7% of Minnesota's total, and growing.

In a relatively new industry - - not bad.

And just as Americans are getting serious about climate change, cleaner air and trimming foreign oil purchases - - awfully prescient.

Minnesota is also years - - light years, I am tempted to say - - ahead of Wisconsin in electrified transit, too, as Minnesota light rail is up and running in the Twin Cities.

Another 11 miles of new rail is just getting underway, according to Minnesota Public Broadcasting.

The Twin Cities new sports stadium in downtown Minneapolis will be served by light rail.

While our Miller Park does have bus service, there is no light rail to Milwaukee's ballpark because light planning was killed in 1997, setting up more traffic congestion to and from Miller Park on 81 home game dates each and every year.

We laugh along with Garrison Keillor about Minnesotans, rag on their football team and say their weather is worse than ours, but when it comes to public policy, we could learn a thing or two from Minnesota.

Update: Maybe the Texan T. Boone Pickens is out savior?]


Unknown said...

I have always been interested in wind power (living in a rural area of Kewaunee county, and noting the number of truly windy days that we have).

My one question is, however, what is the true cost, not the subsidized cost of wind power? If you remove the government subsidies that all wind operations request and receive, what is the break-even period for a commercial wind turbine? What is the cost-per-kilowatt hour for that turbine compared to either clean coal or natural gas or *gasp* nuclear?

I am all for green (or at least greener power options, but when the economy is in the shape that it is, and with our current tax burden only getting heavier, is more subsidized power generation really a good idea today?

Just my .02.

Anonymous said...

The reason why you are seeing more development in Minnesota and Iowa is because the wind is better there. Both in speed and duration. Wisconsin has one corridor that's ok, but nothing like our neighbors to the west.

Anonymous said...

They've got more sites to choose from to streamline the process.


Power Capacity - Existing projects (MW): 1802.91
Rank In US (by Existing Capacity): 4
Rank In US (by Potential Capacity): 9
Potential Capacity (in MW): 75000
% of Potential Developed 2%
Annual Energy (in billion kWh): 657


Power Capacity - Existing projects (MW): 448.9
Rank In US (by Existing Capacity): 16
Rank In US (by Potential Capacity): 18
Potential Capacity (in MW): 6440
% of Potential Developed 7%
Annual Energy (in billion kWh): 56

Dean Weichmann said...

There is not that much subsudy availible to wind power. The PTC is only about 2 cents per kWh.
Fossil fuels are subsudized too. On big one is free dumping of CO2 into the atmosphere.

Anonymous said...

> One industry source says Minnesota leads the states in electricity generated by wind power - - 7% of Minnesota's total, and growing.

Certainly not - Texas is pushing 10%.