Weather-dependent wind power doesn’t stack up against other power sources and results in higher costs, uncertain supply, Judge says
September 13, 2021
A decision rendered by the Minnesota Court of Appeals recently determined that a natural gas power plant would better serve the public interest than a simultaneously proposed wind and solar power project.
In her decision, Judge Louise Dovre Borkman relied on information from the state’s public utilities analyst coordinator, who said that “wind and solar capacity does not always translate into available energy because those resources are unpredictable and uncontrollable—the wind is not always blowing and the sun is not always shining.”
A critical factor in the decision was a statement in Minnesota Statute §216B.2422, subsection 4(3) saying that due to the “intermittent nature of renewable energy facilities” there could be an impact on the cost of energy.
“In fact,” the Judge wrote, “as Minnesota Power illustrated in its EnergyForward , the output from those resources can ebb significantly even over the course of a single day.
“When that happens, or customer demand increases, Minnesota Power must increase output from more reliable resources, like coal or natural gas generators, or purchase power on the regional market.”
The Judge noted testimony from a consulting expert on energy who said that adding more wind instead of natural gas would leave the power company “doubly vulnerable to market pricing, both to sell surplus energy into the market when prices are low and to buy energy when prices are high.”
The final conclusion was that a “wind or solar alternative is not in the public interest” because the costs are higher.
The reasoning didn’t mention Ontario’s disastrous experience with wind power but it might have: two Auditors General said Ontario’s electricity customers had lost billions. And unlike Minnesota which appears to have approached this with care and consideration, there was never any cost-benefit analysis.
The City of Ottawa is about to make the same mistake, with its Energy Evolution plan, putting forward wind, solar and battery storage as the sole solutions to producing energy for the future.