Misinformation surfaces about Ohio RPS, facts set record straight

8 April 2014 by Michael Goggin Michael Goggin

Some misinformation about wind energy has recently surfaced in the discussion over the state Renewable Portfolio Standard in Ohio. We thought it was worth taking a moment to set the record straight:

  • We agree that a common-sense national energy policy calls for a diverse fuel mix that includes wind power. Many people aren’t aware of wind’s low cost and reliability.

  • Wind turbines produce electricity 75-80 percent of the time, and wind produced well during this winter’s polar vortex events, helping keep the lights on for millions of Americans, including in Ohio. Wind was providing more than 3,000 megawatts on each of the occasions when the Great Lakes regional grid operator needed it most this winter, saving consumers millions of dollars by protecting them against electricity price spikes.

  • Backup sources are primarily for conventional sources, not wind, as changes in wind output occur gradually and predictably, while conventional plant outages occur in a fraction of a second. Unplanned failures at conventional plants were the real culprit this winter, taking more than 20 percent of PJM’s generation capacity offline unexpectedly.

  • Apples-and-oranges comparisons are sometimes made with Europe. There they set a fixed price for renewables above the market price and require that wind be used first. Neither of those apply in the U.S. Our market-based policies reward results, and regardless our wind is 50 percent more productive, so our costs are much lower. Wind provides power at rates that are comparable to or lower than conventional energy sources here in the U.S. because we have world-class wind resources.

  • Even at that, Germany’s policies are still very popular there and are not significantly driving up rates — in fact, wholesale prices overall have come down 20 percent in the last year as wind displaces more expensive forms of electricity there, as it does here.
  • The utility industry is already extensively regulated in the interests of consumers, and the state renewable portfolio standard in Ohio is an example of how policymakers are appropriately diversifying the energy mix to protect consumers, as is the case in 29 states.

  • Incentives for energy developers are nothing new either, and have run 8-to-1 in favor of fossil fuels and nuclear power relative to all renewables over the past 60 years. These permanent and entrenched policies are directly reducing the price of competitors’ power compared to wind power and other alternatives.

Ohio utilities and consumers can consider wind power a wallet-friendly and reliable part of their energy mix.