Just because you’re on TV doesn’t mean you can make things up. The hosts of two TV talk shows on Fox Business News, "Money with Melissa Francis" and "Varney & Company," seemed to be competing this week to make the most inaccurate statements about wind power.
1) Wind power is cheap and utilities want more wind. Wind power is actually one of the least expensive forms of energy. And, it offers 25-year fixed rate contracts. When the Midwest grid operator recently got a quarter of all its electricity from wind (Nov. 23, 2012) it noted, “Wind represents one of the fuel choices that helps us manage congestion on the system and ultimately helps keep prices low for our customers and the end-use consumer.” [https://www.midwestiso.org/AboutUs/MediaCenter/PressReleases/Pages/WindOutputSurpasses10GW.aspx]
2) Wind power is reliable and already generates significant amounts of electricity. Iowa and South Dakota reliably produce more than 20 percent of all their electricity from wind power and several other states produce more than 10 percent. Wind power also makes the utility system more reliable, because it is predictable up to 24 hours in advance and changes gradually. Wind has helped keep the lights on when other power sources fail during severe weather events (both hot and cold). Failures at large fossil and nuclear power plants, in contrast, occur instantaneously and without warning. [http://www.awea.org/newsroom/pressreleases/release_02-04-11.cfm]
3) The cost of running 24/7/365 isn't because of wind. To accommodate running other large single plants all day long, utility system operators must keep enough fast-acting reserves online at all times to manage the loss of any one of those plants, a cost that runs into billions of dollars per year and is paid by all electricity consumers. All analyses of the costs of integrating wind energy have found them to reduce this cost to a small fraction of that, because cold reserves can be used when needed. [http://www.awea.org/blog/index.cfm?customel_dataPageID_1699=19456]
4) Wind power IS reducing emissions. Wind turbines generate no emissions in operation. They displace carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases that would otherwise be emitted by other energy sources. Wind turbines installed through 2012 will displace approximately 95.9 million metric tons of carbon dioxide a year, or 1.8% of the entire U.S. carbon footprint. And that amount is growing fast. [http://www.awea.org/learnabout/publications/reports/upload/AWEA-Fourth-Quarter-Wind-Energy-Industry-Market-Report_Executive-Summary-4.pdf]
Why are Melissa Francis and Stuart Varney saying things about wind power that aren't true? You'd have to ask them. But you don't have to let them get away with it. Send them your thoughts on Twitter and include @MelissaAFrancis or @Varneycoand #windworks so we can all follow along. (For ideas, see our Twitter feed at @awea.)