Saturday, January 16, 2016

Don't infer from Obama line that wind power is cheaper; only in a few places, and for new power

In his State of the Union speech this week, President Obama said, “In fields from Iowa to Texas, wind power is now cheaper than dirtier, conventional power.” FactCheck.org reports, "That is true in some pockets of the country, but the national average for coal and gas prices is still less" than wind. Coal and gas cost about $65 per megawatt-hour, while solar and onshore wind cost $80/kwh.

Obama's mention of Iowa and Texas was on point. "Wind energy has become increasingly cost competitive compared with fossil fuel-generated energy, and Obama rightly points out that in some areas of states like Iowa and Texas, wind energy is already cheaper than energy produced by coal or natural gas," Robert Farley writes for FactCheck, noting that Texas and Iowa "were among the leading wind-energy producers in 2014."
Ethan Zindler, head of U.S. research at Bloomberg New Energy Finance, told Farley that the main reason for lower prices in the Great Plains states “is that there’s extraordinary wind in these states and developers are finding ways to take greater advantage of this with newer, larger wind turbines.” And if a utility is building new generation, “There’s no question wind is less expensive,” Zindler said.

BNEF says the cost of generating electricity from coal and gas rose in 2015, while the cost of wind and solar power went down, thanks to improved technology and lower financing costs," Farley reports. "If the price trends continue, Bloomberg estimates that wind power will be cheaper than energy produced by fossil fuels, even without government subsidies, in the next 10 years."

Obama also "stretched the facts . . . on jobs, deficits, health care, military spending and carbon emissions," FactCheck reports.

FactCheck, a non-profit founded in 2003, is the oldest of the journalistic fact-checking sites and the one with the most detailed reports. Based in the Annenberg School of Communication at the University of Pennsylvania, its reports can be published free of charge, with appropriate attribution.

1 comment:

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