Has LES Waited Too Long to Hop on the Wind Bandwagon?

July 28, 2008 at 1:45pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in The Lincolnite Blog

In a Sunday letter to the editor, Ron Kriha accuses LES of “not having the foresight” to explore so-called “alternative” energy sources. Given LES’s request for a 10% rate hike, Mr. Kriha is not alone in his sentiments.

I wonder if he is correct. Has LES waited too long to aggressively pursue new power generation possibilities?

Given all of the current uncertainties about gas prices and electricity rates, it’s easy to say yes. Time will tell if the numbers support that answer. After all, the costs of generating electricity from “green” (or “greener”) sources are just now coming down. Wind power costs have dropped to one-fifth their amount in the 1980’s, for example. An earlier switch would have meant higher initial costs. In fact, maybe costs are still too high for LES, relative to the alternatives. I would love to see those numbers worked out.

Anyway, while we’re busy pointing fingers at the utility, surely we also have to point into a mirror. Lincolnites certainly haven’t been clamoring for change. Quite the contrary; we’ve been content to sit back and enjoy our low rates with barely a peep about looking too far into the future. We may always want the latest and greatest facilities for our Husker athletic events, but we aren’t exactly the types to clamor to be among the early adopters of new and expensive power generation techniques and technologies.

If you’re curious, here’s a simple comparison of costs among various forms of electricity generation. According to those numbers, wind is much more competitive today than the last time I looked at cost comparisons. Remember, though, that those numbers are generalizations. Does anybody know how they compare to our actual local costs?

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The Comments

peter July 28, 2008 at 6:12pm

Interesting and confusing issue.  You can find articles claiming the wind power costs are rising and ones that claim it’s falling.  People say the increased demand for turbines will drive costs up, and other say the demand will push more production and lower costs.

From what I’ve heard from local influencers is that the initial costs are the drawback, making it too hard to turn a profit.  But, if fuel costs keep rising as they have for gas, oil and coal, that rationale can’t hold for very long.

Here’s an interesting and recent article addressing some of the issues:

http://www.nwenergy.org/publications/energy-matters/2008/wind-power-costs-on-the-rise-not-nearly-as-much-as-coal-gas-and-nukes/

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