Government Overestimates the Efficiency of Wind Energy

Via the Center of the American Experiment. Hat tip Powerlineblog

An industrial wind facility in Kewaunee County, Wisconsin has been decommissioned after just 20 years of service because the turbines are no longer cost effective to maintain and operate. The decommissioning of the 14 turbines took many people by surprise, even local government officials and the farmer who had five of the turbines on his property.

Why Are We So Surprised?

What’s really surprising about these wind turbines being decommissioned after 20 years is the is the fact that people were surprised by it. You’d be astonished at how many people I talk to that have no idea that wind turbines only last for 20 years, maybe 25. In fact, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory says the useful life of a wind turbine is only 20 years.


In contrast to wind, coal, natural gas, and nuclear plants can run for a very long time. Coal and natural gas plants can easily run for 50 years, and nuclear plants can be updated and retrofitted to run for 60 years. This has profound implications for the cost of electricity on a per megawatt hour basis that seemingly no one is talking about.

When the federal government puts out their cost projections for energy, the numbers they produce are called the Levelized Cost of Energy, or LCOE. These numbers are supposed to act as a measuring stick that allows policymakers to determine which energy sources will best serve their needs, but these numbers are wrong because they assume all power plants, whether they are wind, coal, natural gas, or nuclear will have a 30-year payback period.

This does two things, it artificially reduces the cost of wind power by allowing them to spread their costs over 30 years, when 20 would be much more appropriate, and it artificially inflates the cost of coal, natural gas, and nuclear by not calculating the cost over the entirety of their reasonable lifetimes.

19 Responses to Government Overestimates the Efficiency of Wind Energy

  1. dad29 says:

    *Put on a shocked face here*.

    Greenies in Gummint LYING?  My word!  Say it isn’t so!!

  2. Jason says:

    I’m 100% certain that school LED projects are based on bullshit numbers too.

  3. Kevin Scheunemann says:

    No surprise these bird shredders are costly to the environment.

    This is what happens when liberal religious “renewable energy” piety messes with capitalism…makes energy more costly…which in end is more damaging to environment.

    Wind energy will go down as yet another, costly, inefficient (which means “polluting” compared to normal energy generation), liberal boondoggle.

  4. dad29 says:

    You notice that they never spend their OWN money on this crapola, Kevin?

    The utilities extract it from the rate-payers and the taxpayers.  Meantime, the Greens fly around the planet (on someone else’s tab, too) enjoying a nice lifestyle….

  5. Le Roi du Nord says:


    You missed the statement from WPS,

    “Spokesperson Matt Cullen said the business is still investing in wind power, but technology has improved over the years.

    “We have made the decision to retire the Lincoln wind energy facility in the town of Lincoln in Kewaunee county,” said Cullen. “The turbines at that facility have reached their useful life and they’re no longer cost-effective to maintain and operate”

    And why would any of you so-called conservatives bad-mouth a business decision based on cost-effectiveness?  Seems contrary to your profit first philosophy.

  6. Kevin Scheunemann says:


    If they are “still investing”, why is it not worth investing putting new turbines of the existing ground footings?

    Seems a waste of money.

    And is it a “good investment” without subsidy?

    I suspect not, because if it was, they would be putting new machinery on the existing footing.

  7. Le Roi du Nord says:

    I don’t know, k.  Why don’t you ask them?  With your pathological fear of anything engineered you wouldn’t believe anything they tell you.

    I can think of several reasons why they wouldn’t re-use the old footings, but you wouldn’t believe me either.  So it goes.

  8. Jason says:

    >I can think of several reasons why Conservatives wouldn’t think a government project is a good idea, but you wouldn’t believe me either. So it goes.

  9. MjM says:

    And now even Lil’ Nort knows why 3≠1.  

    Or maybe not.

    It’s actually 19 years 1 month,  since the blo-hard farm came on line in July of ’99 and they pulled the plug in August of this year.

    But the life span thingie is not the biggest fallacy of wind sticks.

    When MGE celebrated the farm’s 10th anniversary in 2009 they excitedly claimed “215,000 megawatt hours” had been produced over those years.

    Sounds gargantuan, yes?

    What they did was slight-of-hand, choosing to use the eye-popping, bigazz sounding number to hide the actual pitiful results:  the farm produced 2.454 megawatts annually, or less than 22% of the farm’s rated 11.2MW capacity.

    This is known as the capacity factor.  Basically, a percentage of rated capacity produced over a time period, usually a year.

    With windmills, the capacity factor is mostly the result of  – what else? – lack of wind (there is maintenance and down time, too).  For comparison, natural gas energy production runs at about 56%, coal runs 55%.

    Of course, you ramp up coal and gas electricity production when more electricity is needed.  Indeed, gas and coal plants are designed specifically with that in mind.

    Trendy wind sticks just spin, or not, when ever they feel like it.




  10. Kevin Scheunemann says:


    What I see is corporate marketing bs.

    On one hand they say what a great investment wind energy is, but then take apart their facilities without replacing them. The is the worst kind of corporate bilge and misdirection.

    You fall for it because you are a passionate warming disciple.

  11. dad29 says:

    You fall for it because you are a passionate warming disciple.

    You’re too kind.  “Sucker” is more like it.  Those wind-sticks survive only due to Gummint subsidies.  And unlike Foxconn, they provide no jobs, nor value-adds, and don’t pull a supply-chain along, either.

  12. Jason says:

    >And why would any of you so-called conservatives bad-mouth a business decision based on cost-effectiveness?

    Hey LeRoy Duh Nards…

    Conservatives are bad-mouthing it because it was a government job from day 1 and NEVER based on cost-effectiveness.  If it were truly a business decision based on truthful cost-effectiveness…  tax payer money wouldn’t have been spent because the decision would have been “Not Profitable”.  You’re still a dummy.

  13. Le Roi du Nord says:


    Well, you and WPS/WE disagree.  Unless you are on their board it really doesn’t matter what you think.


    Better tell that to the tower manufacturer in Manitowoc, and all the high paid grads from Lakeshore Tech.


    Same goes for you as k. And you still have to resort to names because you have no other argument.  Sad.


    You know this isn’t an MGE project, right?

  14. Kevin Scheunemann says:


    So it is out of bounds to criticize stupid left wing views of corporate boards that may actually hurt the environment?

    Duly noted.

    Crititicizing left wing, two-faced, corporate bilge is verboten.

    Not surprised by your reaction.

  15. Jason says:

    Leroy, so you spent a few minutes typing out a reply that refutes nothing the four of us have said.   Better see a psychiatrist about that last word OCD issue you’re always displaying.  I’m sure Medicare covers it.

  16. dad29 says:

    LeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeRoyyyyyyyyyyy has never really bothered with “facts.”  They get in the way of his feeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeelz.

  17. TEXAG says:

    Point missing is that, as in all “renewable” energy projects, it did not happen because it made economic sense, but because of a government mandate or subsidy.  In this case, Gov. Doyle used the heavy hand of the PSC to push a goal of 10% of generated power coming from wind or solar.

  18. MjM says:

    Nort wonders: You know this isn’t an MGE project, right?

    The numbers I related concern MGE’s 17 wind stick project in the same area,  put on-line at the same time, built by the same contractor, using the same 213-foot towers,  and the same Vesta V47 660 turbines.

    My typo error: “When MGE celebrated the farm’s 10th anniversary…”.

    s/b “… their farm‘s…” 

    Apologies for the confusion.


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