Throw caution in the Wind?
A turn key price for a 20KW wind generator is somewhere between $80,000 and $100,000. The value of the product produced from this investment will cover approximately 25% of the investment cost over its lifetime. The Federal Government provides tax credits and grants up to 50% of investment cost. The remaining 25% of investment may have to be covered by the purchaser. New legislation mandates that Northwest covers a portion of this but with a cap of 1% of the systems aggregate peak demand. For Northwest to cover the remaining cost would be the equivalent of providing free electricity to cover 20 to 25% of an $80,000 to $100,000 investment for each 20KW system installed.
Some consider Northwest Rural Public Power District and other utilities to be resistive to the use of renewable resources.
"Being personally associated with Directors, Managers and Employees of literally 100’s of not for profit public power districts, co-ops and municipalities across the nation I can personally assure you that we are all significantly concerned with the preservation of our non renewable resources.
As stewards of our not for profit utilities we understand that our customers are the beneficiaries of efficiencies and that they also must pay the cost of subsidies.
While renewables preserve the raw energy, that energy represents 10 to 15% of the cost to generate electricity for the customers.” Stated Rolland Skinner, General Manager.
Renewables is defined as sources of energy that are naturally replenishable, including wind, solar, biomass, geothermal, hydro, and hydrokinetic (ocean wave and tidal) power.
Northwest Rural Public Power District supports renewable energy when the system is economically feasible. This support has been shown over the past 18 years with the implementation of a photovoltaic program for livestock watering applications in remote areas. Today, approximately 75 PV systems exist and are operating within Northwest’s Service Territory.
Distributed generation is defined as decentralized generation technologies designed to supplement or replace power produced by large generating plants. In most cases, distributed generation is located at or near the point of use. For homeowners and farmers, examples include “backyard” renewable energy systems such as anaerobic digesters, small wind turbines, photovoltaics, and microhydro plants. Also called on-site generation, dispersed generation, or distributed energy.
Northwest Rural Public Power District will make purchases from generating facilities which are Qualifying Facilities.
Qualified facility means a facility for the production of electrical energy that uses as its energy source either methane, wind, solar resources, biomass, hydropower resources or geothermal resources. Facility is controlled by the customer-generator and is located on premises owned, leased, or otherwise controlled by the customer-generator. Generator interconnects and operates in parallel with the local distribution system. Facility is intended to meet or offset the customer-generators requirements for electricity. Facility is not intended to offset or provide credits for electricity consumption at another location owned, operated, leased, or otherwise controlled by the customer-generator or for any other customer. Facility has rated capacity at or below twenty-five kilowatts and meets all applicable safety, performance, interconnection, and reliability standards established by the National Electrical Safety Code, the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, and the underwriters Laboratories, Inc. Facility is equipped to automatically isolate from the electrical system in the event of an electrical power outage or other conditions where the line is de-energized.
Northwest Rural understands the complexities of these electric issues and has a streamlined process to allow safe, reliable, efficient and cost effective interconnection of such facilities (methane, wind, solar, biomass, hydro or geothermal) to the distribution system and the sale of any excess output to the District.
All energy used or generated will be priced at the avoided cost of purchase power paid to the District's power supplier per kWh per month. This rate is still being subsidized by other customers, as the Distributed Generation is not firm power – as the power may not be produced or provided when needed.
In every electric bill there are two primary components: The 1st component is to cover the cost to purchase the wholesale energy (Kwh) that is passed on to the customer.
The 2nd component is the cost of the electrical distribution system that will deliver the electric energy to the customer. In the case of an interconnected system such as renewables the same distribution system is required to carry any surplus generation from the interconnected system.
Distributed Generation power without the distribution system will be available only when the distributed generation is producing. Solar: Lights will only be on during hours of sunlight and with only partial lights in the morning, evening and cloudy periods. Wind: According to data recorded from actual wind generators located from the Mexican border to the Canadian border through the high plains including Nebraska and wind information from Northwest’s service area, the lights will be on only 30-40% of the time with much of it at partial power.
Due to the fact that most renewable resources are intermittent their generation equipment becomes a duplication of electric generation cost and will increase the cost of providing electricity to all because the full capacity of our other resources must be in place and rotating at all times. Also, renewable generation is most often not on at our peak requirement time frames and will reduce the efficiency of our lightly loaded non-intermittent generation resources when producing off peak.
Northwest Rural “a-not-for-profit” is not anti-renewable energy, however, we are concerned about how the subsidies are funded. Most industries including renewable energy will not reach a point of economy of scale to self sustain without subsidies in the early stages.
Presently, it is very difficult to make wind energy cost effective today even with the subsidies that now exist. The greatest efficiency with wind generators exist in the rural area’s where the wind is unaffected by trees and buildings which slow the wind and create turbulence that will occur within or near cities.
When much of the subsidies come through the electric utility a disproportionate amount of the subsidies will be on the backs of the rural customers where the lowest quantity of the population live.