Heartland Institute chooses fantasy over reality, ignores data showing wind power benefits consumers

27 February 2014 by David Ward David Ward

The success of AWEA’s recent report showing the consumer benefits of wind power has ruffled the feathers of the fossil-funded Heartland Institute and one of its more notorious wind energy myth-makers, James Taylor.

Earlier this month, AWEA authored a report summarizing the large body of evidence confirming that wind energy keeps electricity prices low. The report included the following information, none of which Mr. Taylor was able to dispute:

Instead, Taylor latched onto a single correlational datapoint in the report, Department of Energy data illustrating that the states that obtain more than 7 percent of their electricity from wind have seen their electricity prices decrease over the last 5 years, while other states have seen theirs rise. As usual, Taylor's attacks don't hold up to scrutiny. 

The methodology used for the report is sound. The weighted average across a large number of states in the sample and outside of the sample isolates the impact of wind energy on prices. Weighting the results based on state electricity demand is essential for correctly performing this type of analysis. A failure to do so would give equal weight to electricity price changes in South Dakota and Texas, even though the latter uses 22 times more electricity.

Texas’s emergence as the U.S. wind leader is the real reason why its electricity prices are decreasing. Taylor’s claim that electricity market deregulation is the primary cause of the decline in Texas’s electricity prices cannot be correct for one simple reason. Deregulation was implemented 12 years ago in 2002, while the DOE data we analyzed covers the last five years, which is the period during which Texas tripled its use of wind energy.

The fact is American wind power is a good deal. With the right smart policies in place at the federal and state levels we can keep this American success story going.