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Head of Iowa Wind Energy Association responds to Harris claims

Published: Tuesday, March 5, 2013 11:05 a.m. CST

To the editor:

I read with great interest the response by Tom Harris on Feb. 18 to an article by Rep. Dan Kelley regarding the positive impact of the wind energy industry on the Newton economy and the nation. Rep. Kelley did an excellent job of outlining the benefits of the wind energy industry and the need for a further extension of the Federal Production Tax Credit.

Much of Mr. Harris’ response is seriously flawed and disregards well documented facts about the wind energy industry. His claim that wind energy costs “between three and 10 times” as much as generation from coal, oil, natural gas and nuclear is contradicted by studies by Lazard & Associates whose study determined that wind energy is cheaper than coal, oil, nuclear and about equal to natural gas at its historically low cost levels.

His conclusion is also not supported by the extent to which electric utilities have embraced wind energy as a low cost part of their generation portfolio as indicated by a Feb. 21 press release from the American Wind Energy Association. In fact, it’s well documented that the cost of subsidies for fossil fuel generation far exceeds that for wind.

Just as any prudent investor diversifies their portfolio to accommodate unforeseen risks to any particular asset class it makes sense for the US to diversify our electrical generation portfolio. The wind energy industry seeks to become 20 percent of the overall electrical generation portfolio, not 100 percent.

Notwithstanding this goal, recent research from the University of Delaware determined that a combination of wind and solar generation coupled with improvements in the transmission system and storage technologies could provide 99.9 percent of all the electricity needed within a large regional utility system at costs similar to today by 2030.

Wind energy is environmentally friendly, does not create any harmful emissions and does not require any water for cooling. In fact, recent research suggests Iowa’s wind energy production, if it offsets generation from a coal fired facility, would remove the equivalent of the emissions from 1.5 million cars.

Harold Prior, Ph.D.


Executive Director

Iowa Wind Energy Association

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