Wind Energy is Blowing Away Nuclear

Bloomberg says the wind-power industry, with the help of government subsidies, is making headway against both coal and nuclear power.

In fact, in some areas, wind energy is forcing a nuclear company to pay power grid operators to take their energy…

Exelon, the largest U.S. nuclear operator, says a surplus of wind power is making negative pricing a problem in Illinois, where it owns six nuclear plants and a wind project. Prices for markets served by Exelon’s Clinton and Quad Cities reactors trade below zero between 8 percent and 14 percent of off-peak hours, said Joseph Dominguez, Exelon’s senior vice-president for governmental and regulatory affairs and public policy.

This happens because state laws aimed at going green force utility companies to buy some wind energy, and wind farms also get a $22/megawatt-hour federal tax credit. During off-peak hours when demand is low and gusts are strong, this creates the weird negative pricing effect. Nuclear operators say wind farms should turn off the turbines when demand is down to be fair, but wind farms want to rake in the tax credit. It’s happening mainly in Texas, California, Iowa, Illinois and Oregon, where the wind industry is booming.

And wind farms have, well, the wind at their back. Turbine costs have dropped a third since 2010 as demand has accelerated. Google’s pouring $1 billion into the industry, and Warren Buffett is a big backer too.

Over the past decade, wind-power use has grown tenfold. Last year the industry grew by $25 billion, and its contribution to American power grew by 28 percent. By 2014, wind is expected to provide 4.2 percent of our country’s energy.

Sign up for our free newsletter

Like this article? Sign up for our newsletter and we'll send you a regular digest of our newest stories, full of money saving tips and advice, free! We'll also email you a PDF of Stacy Johnson's '205 Ways to Save Money' as soon as you've subscribed. It's full of great tips that'll help you save a ton of extra cash. It doesn't cost a dime, so why wait? Click here to sign up now.

Check out our hottest deals!

We're always adding new deals and coupons that'll save you big bucks. See the deals to the right and hundreds more in our Deals section.

Click here to explore 1091 more deals!

Comments & discussion

We welcome your opinions, but let’s keep it civil. Like many businesses, we reserve the right to refuse service to anyone. In our case, that means those who communicate by name-calling, racism, using words designed to hurt others or generally acting like an uninformed bully. Also, comments that include links to email addresses or commercial websites typically aren't posted. This isn't a place to advertise your business.