Across the country, warmer than normal temperatures are sending people rushing to the thermostat to turn up the air conditioning. As a result of increased demand, prices for electricity on the spot market shot up, doubling in the Mid-Atlantic and Midwestern regions.
There was one place, though, where prices actually declined, thanks to homegrown, reliable wind power. In Texas, spot prices dropped as wind farms exceeded forecasts, producing an average of 7,447 megawatts for the hour from 1-2 p.m on the ERCOT grid.
Wind turbines in Lubbock County, TX. Credit: Wikipedia user Leaflet
Since wind uses no fuel to produce its power, it acts as a valuable insulator when demand surges or fuel prices hit unpleasant highs.From ThinkProgress:
[W]ind power serves as a cushion, protecting consumers from volatility in electricity prices. Extreme temperatures often drive big swings in electricity demand as people heat or cool their homes and offices, and they can knock out traditional fossil fuel power by freezing natural gas lines or forcing activity at coal plants to halt. Texas has considerably more wind capacity than any other state, meaning it also has the biggest cushion. And according to AWEA, ERCOT has avoided blackouts on multiple occasions thanks to its wind generation.
These and other events illustrate that wind energy plays a critical role in diversifying our energy mix, improving energy reliability and reducing energy costs for homes and businesses. Diversity inherently makes the power system more reliable by protecting against the unexpected failures that afflict all energy sources from time to time, and also protects consumers from energy price fluctuations.
Growing wind power means a more diverse and secure grid for all Americans, one that keeps prices in check and attracts an average of $15 billion a year in private investment. Providing jobs, slashing carbon emissions, and energizing our economy, wind energy is an American success story.