The residents of President Obama’s home state of Illinois sweltered along with the rest of us as the Midwest experienced record high July temperatures. Power demand soared as all ACs were on full. Fortunately (?), the Illinois legislature has enacted strong renewable portfolio standards (RPS), and 3,000 megawatts of wind power (same as Minnesota) were standing ready with electrons. And that’s just what they did – stood by with motionless turbine blades.
As usual on those hot muggy days, there wasn’t a “breath of air.” Chicago temps were high on July 6, and wind turbines managed 4 megawatts, enough to power a very small Chicago neighborhood. For the week, Illinois wind turbines averaged about 10 percent of rated capacity. Fortunately, Illinois nuclear plants at Braidwood (2,300 megawatts), Dresden, La Salle, etc. ran round the clock, and all ACs stayed on as demand reached 22,000 megawatts.
Our Minnesota legislators get tennis elbow from self back-patting for passing those “tough” RPS laws. Unfortunately, the Laws of Nature and Physics are more difficult to control.
Rolf Westgard, St. Paul
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