Electricity prices threaten wind farm

April 8, 2010

“And if we can’t make (the Springfield project) work,” she said, “you’re going to see small wind farms having trouble getting off the ground in the future.”

Wisconsin utilities searching for renewable electricity sources are more likely to invest in large-scale wind farms or import from out of state, Lummus said. But, she said, that hurts Wisconsin because the state loses jobs and the money from land sales.

Madison Gas & Electric’s reluctance to pay nearly three times the going rate for wind farm electricity could kill an estimated $20 million Wave Wind project planned for Springfield.

If there is no need and the price is higher than market rates, Kraus said, ratepayers should not have to pay more.
“We have to be responsible to the customer,” he said.
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“It makes sense as a business model,” he said. “But it’s terrible for energy policy in this state. When you look at why companies are OK with their energy supply right now, it’s because the economy’s down. When it recovers, they’re going to be right back to where they were.

“The issue here is the economics of scale,” he said. “When you’re looking at larger projects, the price comes down. And wind resources in northern Iowa and western Minnesota are better than they are in Wisconsin.”

Without an agreement with MG&E, Lummus said, Wave Wind, which does business in 11 other states, likely will pursue a project in New Mexico.

Six-turbine wind farm $20 million?

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