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More Lies My Wind Rep Told Us — Wind Energy Saved Us During the Polar Vortex

(If you will recall during the Polar Vortex this past winter, the wind industry was out front claiming that their wind turbines saved most of North America, but especially Texas, from blackouts and freezing in the dark.  See here, here and here.  It’s never hard to prove these people lie on a regular basis, so here’s the rebuttal. — DQ)

Wind Choked When it Was Needed Most

Institute for Energy Research — March 27, 2014

Reliable energy sources and a diverse fuel mix are integral to maintaining America’s electric grid and keeping the lights on. The electric grid must be carefully balanced at all times so that supply matches demand or otherwise blackout would occur. This means that the grid needs reliable sources of generation to keep supply and demand matched at all times. New data on the polar vortex that swept the nation in January show how difficult this can be and highlight the perils of government policies designed to replace reliable energy sources with intermittent ones.

What we already know: as temperatures dropped across the country in early January, the cold weather increased demand for natural gas used both for home heating and for gas-fired electric generators. Surging demand, combined with constrained pipeline capacity, led to spiking prices and inadequate natural gas supplies (some customers had their natural gas service interrupted).

To meet the increased electricity demand and prevent power outages, grid operators relied on coal, nuclear, and even petroleum generating units. Wind energy, on the other hand, actually performed worst when it was needed most, according to new data from the PJM Interconnection. This further debunks the wind industry’s claim that wind energy plays an important role in keeping the lights on during low temperature events.

PJM’s data also highlight a fatal flaw in EPA’s proposed ban on coal-fired power plants. EPA assumes that no new coal plants will be built in the foreseeable future, but EPA failed to see that the problems caused by constrained pipeline capacity and a dwindling number of coal-fired power plants. EPA is causing coal facilities to shutter while subsidized and ill-timed wind power continues to force the premature closure of nuclear plants, creating an absence of reliable alternatives to natural gas and leaving Americans vulnerable to future and more dramatic price shocks.

Wind Choked When it was Needed Most

The PJM Interconnection is a regional grid operator that serves all or parts of 13 Northeastern, Mid Atlantic, and Midwestern states and the District of Columbia. Coal, nuclear, and natural gas together comprise 75 percent of the PJM’s electrical generating capacity (41 percent, 18 percent, and 16 percent, respectively). Wind energy accounts for less than one half of one percent of installed capacity.

In early January, the polar vortex increased energy demand and drove up natural gas prices. As temperatures plunged and demand rose, nuclear and coal generators picked up the slack. In contrast, according to PJM data, wind energy generation dropped from 4 gigawatts (GW) on January 6 to less than 2 GW during demand peaks on January 7 and less than 800 megawatts (MW) on January 9. The following graph from PJM compares grid load to wind generation during the height of the polar vortex.   Continue reading here….

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