• The Heritage Network
    • Resize:
    • A
    • A
    • A
  • Donate
  • Cape Wind Power: What’s Cost Got to Do with It?

    After nearly a decade, the Cape Wind offshore project has a lease approval from the Department of Interior, but it is not quite up and running. Once the 130 turbines that stand 440 feet high (taller than the Statue of Liberty) start moving, consumers will pay a hefty premium for the electricity the nation’s first offshore wind farm generates. The Boston Globe reports:

    [T]he energy produced will cost up to 50 percent more than energy today from some land-based wind farms and twice as much as some hydroelectric dams. The cost will increase customers’ monthly electric bills about 2 percent, and for many that is too steep in tough economic times.

    And let’s not forget that onshore wind is pricier than more conventional, reliable sources of electricity. A new analysis from the Attorney General’s office pegs the cost of the project at $2.5 billion—more than twice the original estimate. Cape Wind stands to receive hundreds of millions of dollars in federal subsidies, and to replace one offshore natural gas platform, we would need 59 Cape Wind projects, which means more than 7,700 turbines covering an area the size of Rhode Island. We would need 24 of these projects to replace one of the 104 nuclear plants we have in the United States.

    The Cape Wind offshore wind farm has been in federal review for nine years and just recently received lease approval from the Interior Department. The project still has some hurdles to overcome, mainly the contract that Cape Wind negotiates with the utility to buy the wind power. The 130-turbine project that would spread across 25 square miles received support and opposition from environmentalists—some arguing we need more clean energy production, others arguing that it will harm the marine’s ecosystem. The late Senator Ted Kennedy long argued that the aesthetic beauty of the Nantucket Sound would be ruined and tourism would suffer as a result. Indian tribes argue it will destroy sacred land.

    The debate has become so contentious that few actually considered the economics of the project. Beth Daley of the Globe writes, “They were focused on making Cape Wind happen; they didn’t worry nearly as much about the cost, a Globe review of state documents shows.”

    Wind power without subsidies, mandates, or tax credits can benefit Americans by creating a more robust, competitive energy market. The reality is that decades of subsidies and tax credits haven’t helped wind projects compete; they’ve stifled them in mediocrity and complacency. Special-interest politicking creates benefits for few and disperses the costs on the rest of us. Audra Parker of the Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound explains it well, saying consumers “will be needlessly paying billions of dollars in electric bills and subsidies to line the pockets of a private developer.”

    Posted in Energy [slideshow_deploy]

    9 Responses to Cape Wind Power: What’s Cost Got to Do with It?

    1. Robert Warren, Newto says:

      The article on the costs of Cape Wind and its National Grid contract is extremely misleading and does a detriment to advancing the need for the alternative of wind power. When Beth Daley cites the 2% increase in the costs to a consumer's National Grid bill she never offers an example of what that means to the average consumer's monthly bill. My National Grid bill for October is $71.00. The arithmetic indicates that my monthly bill will increase $1.42 when the new pricing begins. That is less than a cup of Dunkin Donuts coffee per month. Yet Daly writes that this increase in cost is an amount that consumers cannot absorb with this economy.

      The story did not focus on the 300% increase in fossil fuel costs over the past decade. My cup of coffee increase will be about $17.40 per year. I think most consumers would be willing to pay this increase in exchange for the chance of reducing carbon emissions if they were given this example. Yet, Audra Parker of the Alliance to Save Nantucket Sound is quoted as saying that consumers will be forced to pay "billions of dollars in increases" as a result of the Cape Wind/national Grid contract.

      A fair and balanced story would at least have given a projection of the costs to the average consumer rather than capitulate to the inflammatory complaints of the opposition to Cape Wind.

    2. Red Dwarf says:

      LCOE (levelized cost of energy) for plants going into service in 2016:

      Coal-Nat Gas $80-$100/KWHr

      Wind-Offshore $191

      Solar PV $396

      Source: US DoE

      Renewables make perfect sense to me!

    3. Pingback: PA Pundits - International

    4. Dennis Georgia says:

      This is just plain stupid. I wonder what damage one hurricane will do and how much we the tax payer will have to provide in the start up and then in repair. I know someone will say that part of the cost does not get hurricanes, but I do believe at least one just made it that far. The best laid plans of mice and men, bet the mice have a better paln.

    5. Jim Olson, Winston S says:

      As bad as this sounds, I believe that it understates the cost of inefficiency of wind electrical generation. I was responsible for energy procurement for a concern in California less than 10 years ago. At that time, the underlying cost for different power sources was about 2 cents/KWH for hydro, 4 to 5 for gas/coal, 6 for nuclear and 12 for wind. Said another way, up to 600% more expensive!

      An effective way to limit creativity, job creation, etc. is to force the use of inefficient practices in the name of politically correct, non-scientific based policies.

    6. Drew Page, IL says:

      What does the Attorney General's office know about pricing energy produced by wind power? Why are they involved in this at all? Why don't they spend their time prosecuting voter intimidation?

      Why does 'Cape Wind' stand to receive hundreds of millions of dollars in government subsidies (tax dollars)? Does Al Gore own it or have stock in it?

      Who are the private developers that will profit and how many campaign dollars are these developers and their lobbyists directing to the politicians that are behind this idea? Somebody wants to prove that winf power generate clean energy. We already know that it can. But why should we pay substantially more for electricity than we need to, just to make somebody else rich?

    7. Dave Miller Chelsea, says:

      Ah — just a second…..Please list all the alternative energy solutions being debated that would eliminate the capital assets associated with "regular" energy generation?

      Ok, let's make it easier….take Nuclear out of the mix……let's see, wind? No, when the wind doesn't blow, there's no electricity……Solar? No, when the sun doesn't shine, there's no electricity…..Water turbines — maybe, as long as the water flows fast enough and without drought being a consideration…..hmmmmm…….it would seem that under the most common alternative energy generation solutions being discussed, most / all require either nuclear or coal fired electric generation to support our population during the regular and expected outages of the wind and sun…..Dare I suggest this means we would have to support at least two seperate electrical generation assets each for wind and solar…….

    8. Tim AZ says:

      The only one who profits from these alternative power projects is the developer through Govt. subsidies to build these monuments to the theft of tax payer dollars. The developer faces no financial loss if these monuments never produce anything. If alternative energy is so profitable why is there no developers that risk their own money to build these projects? The developer just moves on in search of more easy tax payer dollars with no risk attached to the outcome of the project. In essence the tax payer is taken multiple times, first through funding of the project and then through the increased cost reflected in their electricity bill. This of course will lead to a new tax on private electricity consumers to subsidize electricity bills for those on welfare who cannot afford to watch their govt. provided HD TV'S. Lastly they are hit almost daily through higher priced consumer products that are either made or sold using the more expensive alternative energy. I really can't think of a better way to reduce every ones quality of life, then to raise the cost of living exponentially through higher energy prices from energy produced at a negative profit. Only a handful wins in this scam and of course some the tax payer dollars will return in the form of campaign contributions to politicians as long as politicians can keep this scam going. Money laundering at it's finest.

    9. Spiritof76, NH says:

      Wind and solar energy production can never compete with the conventional power sources. Wind and solar power is available in only in weak concentration. They are distributed. Wind and solar will be internittent, not available when needed nor controllable. Wind turbines can only be productive within a narrow windspeed range. Solar power is even worse. Energy must be expended to gather and concentrate the energy levels for useful conversion into electrical energy.

      Coal, gas and nuclear utilize material that can release enormous amounts of internal energy already present in them. A combined cycle plant, Gas and steam can operate at an overall efficiency of 60 to 70%! Wind power availability is advertised at 30% but in reality it is in the teens. Sottish power wind farm generated at 17% of the installed capacity- reason, lack of wind velocity.

      Solar power direct conversion to electricity is about 10% efficient and very narrow in wavelength. On top of that, it demands use of rare earth materials, some of which are toxic.

      Wind and solar power generation require enormous electrical storage capacity. It has not been invented yet.

      Since those sources are sporadic and uncontrollable, conventional spinning reserves are required as standby- poor efficiency and additional power plant installation and operation costs.

      Wind and solar will always be losers. That is why you don't see any sailing ships carrying passengers and cargo anymore!

    Comments are subject to approval and moderation. We remind everyone that The Heritage Foundation promotes a civil society where ideas and debate flourish. Please be respectful of each other and the subjects of any criticism. While we may not always agree on policy, we should all agree that being appropriately informed is everyone's intention visiting this site. Profanity, lewdness, personal attacks, and other forms of incivility will not be tolerated. Please keep your thoughts brief and avoid ALL CAPS. While we respect your first amendment rights, we are obligated to our readers to maintain these standards. Thanks for joining the conversation.

    Big Government Is NOT the Answer

    Your tax dollars are being spent on programs that we really don't need.

    I Agree I Disagree ×

    Get Heritage In Your Inbox — FREE!

    Heritage Foundation e-mails keep you updated on the ongoing policy battles in Washington and around the country.

    ×