Thursday, February 17, 2011

High cost of the green mirage

This is a little wind farm, mind you.

Wind power will cost RI taxpayers $1.5M

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) - Deepwater Wind's initial project will raise state and local governments' electric bills by a combined $1.5 million in its first year, according to documents reviewed by the Target 12 Investigators.

Municipal electric bills will increase by a total of $1 million while state government's bill will rise by $476,630, according to an estimate commissioned by National Grid from Energy Security Analysis Inc. The cost would rise by 3.5 percent every year for the next two decades.

The estimate was included in a document National Grid asked the R.I. Public Utilities Commission to seal from the public view as the panel weighed whether to approve a controversial 20-year contract between Deepwater and Grid. The PUC denied that request, opening the town-by-town breakdown up for public inspection.

The government cost estimates reflect the smaller of Deepwater's two projects, a demonstration wind farm off Block Island that will have up to eight turbines and is expected to be up and running by 2013.

The company – which was handpicked by Gov. Don Carcieri in 2008 to develop wind power off Rhode Island's coast – is also proposing a much larger, utility-scale development of up to 200 turbines that won't be in place until at least 2015.

Much more, and video, at the link.

In a sidebar to the story quoted above, we learn that "National Grid will pay Deepwater a maximum of 24.4 cents per kilowatt-hour for the electricity in its first full year of operation. After that, the price will increase 3.5 percent per year – theoretically to 25.3 cents in the second year, 26.1 cents in the third year, etc." For comparison, a recent post at Green Tech says "Recent power purchase agreements to buy energy from wind farms have been in the range of 5 cents to 6 cents per kilowatt-hour." And for further comparison, that sidebar says that "National Grid pays 9.5 cents per kilowatt-hour for wholesale electricity in Rhode Island right now." Most of that comes from natural gas and nuclear.

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