Wednesday, April 24, 2013 | 2 a.m.
“We’re so overleveraged on natural gas. If we’re not doing enough on renewable energy, then we’re really going to be caught.”
These recent comments by Assemblyman David Bobzien in the story “Why do you pay what you do for power?” capture the valuable protection wind energy and other renewables are providing to Nevada consumers. Much like how fixed-rate mortgages protect homeowners from fluctuations in interest rates, zero-fuel-cost energy sources such as wind energy protect consumers from fluctuations in the price of fossil fuels. This is more important with 70 percent of Nevada electricity needs met by out-of-state natural gas.
However, the cost of moving to a cleaner, more balanced power mix has been overstated. According to NV Energy’s April 2013 rate schedule, the state’s renewable energy program is responsible for around $2 (or about 2 percent) of an average monthly utility bill, far less than other bill adders. Moreover, data filed with the state Public Utilities Commission and linked in the article confirms that wind energy purchases are decreasing the power company’s costs.
Also, unlike conventional power plants, generating electricity from wind does not require any water. Wind energy also offsets the most expensive and least efficient fossil-fired plants, improving air quality by reducing emissions of mercury, sulfur dioxides and other pollutants.
In short, wind energy is a win-win for the state’s consumers and environment.
The author is the western regional representative of the American Wind Energy Association.