The Finch Formerly Known As Gold

12 February 2006

Running out of wind

Which of course we're not: blasts from the northwest are, even as I type, ripping through the countryside at a consistent 25 to 35 mph.

OG&E, however, is. From their current bill insert:

Due to the overwhelming response to the energy savings OG&E's Wind Power program provides, OG&E customers have purchased all the wind-generated electricity we have to offer. However, we're putting customer names on a waiting list to receive wind power when it becomes available.

Lower wind prices, coupled with high natural gas prices, have created significant savings to wind power subscribers — as much as 10 percent on monthly bills. Many customers signed up for 100 percent wind-generated electricity, creating demand beyond OG&E's available supply. In fact, the amount of wind energy purchased by OG&E's customers has more than doubled since the first of the year.

Emphasis added. And this is instructive: apparently as late as December, OG&E had sold less than 50 percent of their 50-megawatt capacity, but $12/dekatherm natural gas and a downward adjustment of the wind-power fee (from $2 to $0.10/kw) pushed demand to the max.

And if I needed any more persuasion, I could look at the bill I got Friday, which contains the following item: FINAL WIND OPTION COST -$8.62. That's more than I lost for the month on my gas bill.

The utility is already taking steps to increase its supply, though the new capacity won't be online until the end of 2006 at the earliest.

Posted at 12:12 PM to Family Joules

The utility is already taking steps to increase its supply...

Buying more politicians?

Posted by: McGehee at 12:55 PM on 12 February 2006

Naw. It's cheaper to rent them here.

Actually, they're buying the output of a 120-mw wind farm that's supposed to be built this year.

Posted by: CGHill at 1:14 PM on 12 February 2006

Seems like a safer bet than drilling. When you drill, you don't know:
1.) Future demand/pricing
2.) Whether you can actually recover any oil from the enormous hole you're drilling.

With wind power, #2 is pretty much fixed over the course of a year, I would imagine.

Posted by: Dan at 9:05 PM on 12 February 2006

I mean, with #2, the amount of energy extracted is fixed over the course of a year, of course. The amount of oil extracted from wind farms is fixed right around, well, zero.

Posted by: Dan at 9:07 PM on 12 February 2006

The second paragraph you quoted starts with "Lower wind prices." I hope they don't hear about this over here in Tennessee. So far we don't have to pay for wind. I heard that the state government is studying the feasibility of slapping a tax on the air we breathe.

Posted by: Winston at 5:37 AM on 13 February 2006

Won't be really big until there is a depleation allowance tax break for wind lease holders.

Posted by: e at 11:08 AM on 13 February 2006

"This here's a stripper windmill: it only produces a few watts a day, but we keep 'er running because we get a tax break for it."

Now that's a concept.

Posted by: CGHill at 11:55 AM on 13 February 2006

Well, the trouble with the cheap wind is, you usually have to accept a less pleasantly fragrant product. And then there's the noise.

Posted by: McGehee at 9:29 AM on 14 February 2006

...sorry. It's just that the idea of tax breaks for wind power...

Posted by: McGehee at 9:30 AM on 14 February 2006