In this video, Mark Mathis of the “Clear Energy Alliance” claims that wind energy is not economically useful and therefore should not be subsidized by governments or Public Utilities Commission.
He sources the “Center of the American Experiment.” The claim goes that electricity prices were once lower than the national average, but the costs increased after implementation of wind energy.
Also claimed is that CO2 emissions weren’t lowered as much as the rest of the United States.
The video also mentions that the wind companies are profiting off the installation of wind turbines.
The video would lead a reasonable person to conclude that this video is being posted altruistically. That the organization wants only what is best for the citizens of Minnesota and are not themselves in the tank of any industry themselves. A for-profit organization, CEA appears to be wholly owned by Mark Mathis. Mark Mathis is a meteorologist (not a climate scientist) who often is a pundit arguing against wind solar and has received funding from organizations even bigger than the wind companies: oil and gas companies. A quick search through the videos they have listed on LinkedIn quickly reveals the organization’s member(s) are not big fans of either wind or solar energy and absolutely love fossil fuels.
The Video misrepresents the climate impact of wind
Overall wind energy produces less carbon than fossil fuels do. All forms of energy require initial energy investment to produce. Coal and gas power plants require fossil fuel to build just like wind farms do. The difference is in operation, wind energy requires less carbon output to maintain than does gas and coal. Carbon is output for all forms as power plants require maintenance, which requires trucks and workers just like wind does. Per kilowatt-hour wind produces 11 grams of carbon compared with about 980 g CO2/kWh for coal and roughly 465 g CO2/kWh for natural gas.
But why did carbon go down less in Minnesota than other states?
The video itself first used the overall carbon output of Minnesota and not just electricity. Then when using just electricity it did not consider whether or not electricity demand went up. In 1990 the population of Minnesota was at 4.39 million whereas in 2017 it was at 5.57 million. At a minimum, the carbon footprint would have increased 26% based solely on population. The video doesn’t factor in increased capacity of fossil fuel energy in Minnesota, increased traffic patterns, or increase in heating because of higher demand.
The video gets the facts sorely wrong on the cost
When considering the economic factor it’s important not only to delve into what it cost in the past but what it might cost in the future. Some costs are paid for already. The video itself mentions that new power lines had to be put into the more windy areas. The video fails to mention that the cost of wind energy has gone down and is expecting to go down further due to innovations and increased competition from China.
Gas and Coal had their time, over a billion dollars was put in by the government to spur the innovation of electricity via the Tennessee Valley Authority, Railroads, and Hydroelectric damns. Today they are profitable industries in need of no government assistance. The same could not be said for wind and solar as they were in their infancy well into the 2000s. We have recently seen amazing progress in both that could make them the go-to form energy. Why else would an oil-exporting country like Saudi Arabia build a solar farms? They are taking advantage of the investments made by the United States.