Category — Pricing distortions (wind)
This month, unity was shattered within the wind industry when energy-giant Exelon Corporation broke ranks with other renewable-energy developers and asked Congress to let the production tax credit (PTC) expire in December. Exelon rightfully argued that the subsidy was distorting competitive wholesale energy markets and causing financial harm to other, more reliable clean energy sources.
In a fit of fury, the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) voted Exelon “off the island” for insubordination and dismissed their complaint as self-serving, aimed at protecting Exelon’s fleet of Midwest nuclear power plants. AWEA insisted that wind was benefiting ratepayers by driving down consumer electricity prices in the face of “expensive, inflexible generation” like nuclear and coal.
As usual, AWEA position is easily rebutted. Yes, Exelon is concerned about (bizarre) wind pricing on the rates received by its nuclear power plants. But the impact of large quantities of wind generation on energy markets extends beyond nuclear power, and on the whole is placing upward pressure on electricity prices. [Read more →]
October 3, 2012 4 Comments
The coalition in support of wind power’s Production Tax Credit (PTC) has always had a bit of a Bootleggers and Baptists flavor: environmentalists making a clean and green argument in favor of wind power and the multinational wind power development corporations funding the political muscle needed to get things done.
The coalition has proven durable even as wind power took a few environmental hits, but now the business side of the coalition is beginning to fray. The PTC will expire at the end of 2012 unless Congress acts to extend it, and some interesting positions are being advertised as the tax-cliff approaches.
For example, the Chicago Tribune reports that Exelon Corp., a large electric power company that owns a significant amount of wind power and is a member of the American Wind Energy Association, is opposing efforts to renew the tax credit (sub. req.).
“The (production tax credit) has been in place since 1992, I believe,” Exelon Chief Executive Christopher Crane said in a conference call with investors and analysts Wednesday. “And I think that’s enough time to jump-start an industry, 20 years.”
The economic logic behind Exelon’s position is clear: ”with nearly half of its profits coming from its nuclear fleet and low-cost wind power cutting into its margins, Exelon is in Washington leading a fight to kill a tax credit the wind industry says is crucial to its survival.”
Note that “low cost wind power” is referring to the low marginal cost of production, not the total cost per MWh of energy produced. Most of Exelon’s generating assets are in markets with energy prices driven toward the marginal cost of production, and additional wind power in these markets tends to push average prices down. [Read more →]
August 15, 2012 5 Comments