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Wind Wins in Megawatt Price Race

August 1, 2011

LYONS, Neb. - Wind energy is making its mark on rural plains states like Iowa. The Center for Rural Affairs (CFRA) just completed a report on the industry. CFRA energy policy analyst Johnathan Hladik says 40 percent of the nation's electricity demand can be satisfied by wind power - and it would cost less than coal-based power.

"The technology has improved so much that now we are seeing, in high wind areas, wind being sold for $65 per megawatt hour and conventional sources - such as coal, which for the most part is the cheapest - at $68 per megawatt hour."

Hladik says a huge amount of electricity is untapped now because transmission lines are not there to move the power to where it is needed.

"We have over 275,000 megawatts of wind in situations where the turbines are up and built and the turbines are spinning, but the turbines aren't producing electricity because we don't have the transmission infrastructure to bring that electricity to where it's needed the most."

He says 30,000 to 40,000 miles of new transmission lines are needed by 2030, and every $1 billion invested in new transmission would support 13,000 full-time jobs. Hladik points out that a majority of the nation's transmission lines were built 50 years ago, and he says the investment could improve the reliability of the grid and promote wind generation at the same time.

A full copy of the report is available at www.cfra.og.

Dick Layman, Public News Service - IA