Fact Check

Heartland Institute messes with Texas numbers to deride wind

Heartland Institute messes with Texas numbers to deride wind

If there’s one fact that you should know about wind power in the U.S., it’s that Texas generates far more of it than any other state. Yet a Heartland Institute fellow recently excluded Texas to try to make the claim that electricity prices are “soaring in states generating the most wind power.” States that obtain more than 8 percent of their electricity from wind have actually seen a decline in prices, even as the nation as a whole has experienced rising electricity prices.

Forbes.com contributor James Taylor of the Heartland Institute, a libertarian think tank that opposes the use of more renewable energy, cherry-picked data to declare that the 10 states that have the highest percentage of generation derived from wind energy have experienced electricity price increases higher than the increases in other states on average. However, by leaving out the state with the 11th highest percentage of wind generation, Texas – which generates the most wind power of any state, and some of the most affordable – he gave a misleading perspective of wind energy’s affordability. Once you include Texas, states that obtain more than 8 percent of their electricity from wind energy have actually seen a load-weighted electricity price decline of 0.22 percent, versus a price increase of 3.49 percent for the nation as a whole.

It’s unlikely that this was an idle mistake by Taylor. He previously tried to explain away Texas’ low prices by claiming that its prices are falling “as a result of the state’s deregulation policies.” However, as the American Wind Energy Association previously explained to him, deregulation was implemented 12 years ago, so it cannot explain recent price drops.

Innovation has made wind energy a very affordable source of energy. Out of 15 expert studies on the impact of wind energy on electricity prices, all 15 have found that wind energy reduces energy costs for consumers. A report by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory also found that Renewable Electricity Standards (RES) have had an impact of less than 4 percent, in all but one of the 29 states that have implemented these standards. Furthermore, many RES policies contain provisions that curtail the policies if they increase by more than a few percent, which has never happened. Dozens of press articles have documented that the real reason for electricity price increases in the Midwest and Mountain states is coal retrofits.

Photo at top via Flickr user lafaske.

Fact Check

Shauna Theel is the Deputy Director of Digital Media at the American Wind Energy Association. She oversees AWEA's digital media content and strategy, ensuring that the message of clean, affordable, and American wind power is heard loud and clear across media platforms. Prior to joining AWEA, she worked at the watchdog group Media Matters for America for four years. As the Climate and Energy Program Director at Media Matters, she oversaw the group's rapid response communications, long-term research analyses, and outreach efforts related to energy and environmental policy. In this role, she served as the public face of the team, giving interviews to press outlets, and giving presentations everywhere from Capitol Hill to the National Press Club. She graduated magna cum laude from the University of California, Berkeley with a degree in Political Science.

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