NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Federal Government To Push Wind Power

June 21, 1999

Energy Secretary Bill Richardson is scheduled to announce today a plan to produce 5 percent of the nation's electricity from wind by 2020 -- with the federal government relying on wind for 5 percent of its power by 2010. At present only one-tenth of 1 percent of electric supplies are wind generated.

  • Of all renewable energy technologies -- including electricity from the sun, biomass and crop wastes -- experts say wind is the closest to being competitive in price.
  • The price of a kilowatt-hour of electricity from wind has declined from 40 cents during the 1970s to about 5 cents -- but experts say it must fall to between 2 cents and 2.5 cents to succeed.
  • About 2,500 megawatts of capacity are expected to be in service around the country by the end of this month, up from about 1,600 megawatts a year ago -- with the 900 megawatts difference equating to the capacity of one medium-size nuclear plant.
  • Experts say that wind potential is greatest in the upper great Plains, North Dakota, Wyoming, South Dakota, Minnesota and Iowa.

A federal tax credit of 1.7 cents per kilowatt-hour is scheduled to expire on June 30, but the Clinton administration wants to extend that for another five years.

The average American residential consumer pays about 7 cents per kilowatt-hour. The cost of generating power is about one quarter of the final cost to consumers.

Source: Matthew L. Wald, "U.S. Aims to Have 5 Percent of Electricity from Wind by 2020," New York Times, June 20, 1999.


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