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Windpower: Not as Free As You Think

By <a class="post-author" href="/about#llinowes">Lisa Linowes</a> -- September 27, 2010

We’ve all heard the pitch about how wind is free and that once a windpower facility is constructed, the cost of generation is appropriately set low thanks to no fuel expense. We’re also often reminded that no fuel cost means wind will help insulate consumers from wildly fluctuating energy prices.

The concept is easy to grasp, and rural communities considering whether to host a wind facility are likely to conclude that the project will produce local and regional benefits in the form of lower electricity bills.

Think again

The fact is, the price of electricity within a grid region is set at a single price known as the market-clearing price (MCP). In most organized electricity markets, electricity generators are encouraged to participate in a daily or day-ahead auction process whereby a uniform market price–the¬†MCP–is established.