Lester Brown, the author of Plan B, has recently published a story about the potential of Wind Energy and about a particular electric utility in Texas.
Here is the story.
WIND ENERGY DEMAND BOOMING:
Cost Dropping Below Conventional Sources Marks Key Milestone
in U.S. Shift to Renewable Energy
© 2006 Earth Policy Institute
Lester R. Brown
March 22, 2006
When Austin Energy, the publicly owned utility in Austin, Texas, launched its GreenChoice program in 2000, customers opting for green electricity paid a premium. During the fall of 2005, climbing natural gas prices pulled conventional electricity costs above those of wind-generated electricity, the source of most green power.
This crossing of the cost lines in Austin and several other communities is a milestone in the U.S. shift to a renewable energy economy.
Austin Energy buys wind-generated electricity under 10-year, fixed-price contracts and passes this stable price on to its GreenChoice subscribers. This fixed-price energy product is quite attractive to Austin’s 388 corporate GreenChoice customers, including Advanced Micro Devices, Dell, IBM, Samsung, and 3M. Advanced Micro Devices expects to save $4 million over the next decade through this arrangement.
School districts are also signing up. Round Rock School District, for example, projects 10-year savings to local taxpayers at $2 million.
Facing a Texas-style stampede of consumers wanting to sign up for the current remaining supply of green electricity, Austin Energy has resorted to a GreenChoice raffle that will be held on March 23. All its customers—both residential and business—were invited to participate in the drawing.
Overall, U.S. wind-generating capacity expanded by 36 percent in 2005, reaching 9,149 megawatts. This year it could expand by 50 percent. At the end of 2005, there were commercial wind farms in 30 states. (See data.)
Wind power generation would grow even faster if it were not constrained by the availability of turbines. General Electric, now supplying 60 percent of the U.S. wind turbine market, is sold out through 2007.
Clipper Windpower, a startup turbine manufacturer, is planning to produce 20 of its 2.5-megawatt Liberty turbines per month by mid 2006 and a total of 250 turbines in 2007. Its production is also committed well into the future.
Wind energy is emerging as a centerpiece of the new energy economy, because it is abundant, inexpensive, inexhaustible, widely distributed, clean, and climate-benign. Three of the 50 states—North Dakota, Kansas, and Texas—have enough harnessable wind energy to satisfy national electricity needs.
The cost of wind-generated electricity has fallen from 38¢ per kilowatt-hour in the early 1980s to 4¢ to 6¢ today, offering an almost endless supply of cheap energy.
Beyond that, these wells will never go dry.
No one can cut off the supply or raise the fuel cost.
And wind can supply our energy needs without disrupting the earth’s climate. "
Wind Power combined with ultra caps or converted to hydrogen
to be used as an additive to already existing boiler and turbine fuels
can provide the bridge energy we need to truly move into
a time where we begin to use the energy that surrounds us.
Wind Power can be used to power plug in hybrid vehicles, electric mass transit, Segways, electric scooters, electric lawn mowers and it can even quiet those awful blowers.
And the result will be healthier air and levelized electric rates.
Imagine a transportation device that slips through the moment,
using only the energy of the creation.
Imagine a home or an office that lives and breathes
as efficiently as a flower or any other living thing.
Imagine all of our creations becoming one with the creation.
Imagine our settlements and communities,
as living, breathing beings.
Because they are you know.
How else could a town die?
If it had not been alive.
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Earthfamilyalpha Content II
illustration courtesy of Python