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Wind power unpopular, mandated, subsidized

The (April 1) Gazette article about the challenges of integrating wind power was accurate but ignores underlying problems and glosses over the warts.

Jan Falstad said that wind had gone from being “technologically challenged and too expensive – to being a popular and mandated goal.” Perhaps more accurately, it should have read, “Wind has gone from being technically challenged and too expensive – to being technically challenged, mandated and taxpayer subsidized.”

If wind power were really popular, we would not need Gov. Schweitzer putting it in the law that we must buy it. Only uncompetitive sources of power are mandated. Only 3/10th of 1 percent of NWE’s customer base willingly pay 50 cents per week extra to support “green power.”

NWE and the PSC have long known about the fines ratepayers face because of the line imbalance caused by Judith Gap. Yet PSC Commissioner Jergeson, while acknowledging the errors of his vote on Judith Gap, just recently voted for 50 MW more of wind. I wish Falstad had asked him about this apparent discrepancy.

Fortunately, our commissioner Brad Molnar stood alone against both Judith Gap and the 50 additional megawatts because they shifted the risks and costs from the developers to the ratepayers. Eventually, he was joined by Commissioner Doug Mood. Unfortunately, the three Democratic commissioners decided that consumers would just have to bear it. And so we shall.

Caroll Smith


24 April 2007