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  • Wednesday, March 6, 2013


    Fact check: WSJ goes astray on California's integration of wind

    Michael Goggin, 2013 February 28 (Into the Wind/AWEA)

    “…[A] Wall Street Journal piece by Rebecca Smith] on the growth of renewable energy in California and the effect on its electric utility system…makes several incorrect and unsupported assertions…Fact #1: It is unlikely that the state will experience a shortage of flexible power by 2017…Fact #2: Nuclear and fossil fuel power plants can go offline much more rapidly than renewable energy…which is a far greater challenge for grid operators and a far greater cost for the power system.

    “…Fact #3: Integrating renewable energy will not negatively affect reliability in California…[T]o reach 33% renewable energy, the California grid operator will use slightly more of the flexible reserves that it has always used to accommodate fluctuations in electricity demand as well as sudden failures at large fossil and nuclear power plants…”

    “…Fact #4: Renewable energy output does not change significantly on a second-to-second time-frame, while the output of nuclear and fossil plants does…Dozens of wind integration studies, including many conducted in California, have confirmed that adding wind and solar to the grid only results in modest increases in total system variability...[A]n average household’s monthly electric bill of $100, the increase in reserve costs in the renewables case would work out to an increase of around 3-4 cents!

    “…[California] is already implementing a number of market reforms to make its system work more efficiently and better accommodate large amounts of renewable energy. They are also implementing faster transmission scheduling to allow more efficient movement of power within California and between California and its neighbors…[M[]aking their market mechanisms work faster and more efficiently…Wind and solar energy have no fuel costs, and adding them to the grid displaces the most expensive power plant that is currently operating. Adding renewable energy to the power system drives down the energy costs, yielding consumers’ significant net savings…”


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