In Montana, wind energy is cost-competitive with fossil fuels, especially coal. In fact, wind energy is less much less expensive than coal for customers of NorthWestern Energy – the state’s largest utility. The graph below comes from data from the Montana Public Service Commission and it compares the costs of various resources in NorthWestern’s portfolio. The Judith Gap wind facility is about $32.11 per megawatt-hour (or 3.1 cents per kilowatt-hour) while the coal-fired Colstrip Unit 4 is about $64.55 per megawatt-hour or (6.4 cents per kilowatt hour).

Source: Montana Public Service Commission

Nationally, financial analyst firm Lazard found in December 2016 unsubsidized wind projects costing between $32 and $62 per megawatt-hour while coal cost between $57 and $148 per megawatt-hour.

Why are Wind Costs are Decreasing?

Wind energy technology has improved significantly in recent years, resulting in turbines that are larger and produce energy at less cost. Increased turbine hub height, rotor diameter, and nameplate capacity have allowed more energy to be produced per turbine than ever before. The U.S. Department of Energy reports the average nameplate capacity for a newly installed wind turbine in 2015 was 2.0 megawatts, an 180% increase since 1999. In addition to generating more energy at less overall cost, larger turbines have made it possible to economically generate energy in areas with increasingly lower average wind speeds.

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16 Responses to " Cost of Wind vs. Fossil Fuels "

  1. […] batteries, research and development could make them more efficient. As mentioned here by the Montana Environmental Information Center: “Turbines are much larger, growing from an average of 1.2 megawatts to 1.6 megawatts (a 33% […]

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  3. […] EIA also predicts a percentage decrease in the electricity produced by coal powered plants due to a 1.4% increase in mine-mouth costs as coal companies have to move into reserves that are more costly to […]

  4. […] Cost of Wind vs . Fossil Fuels – MEIC – Montana … – Cost of Wind vs. Fossil Fuels. When comparing the cost of wind vs. fossil fuels its important to consider fuel costs, integration costs, operating costs, and the cost …… […]

  5. […] Cost of Wind vs. Fossil Fuels – MEIC – Cost of Wind vs. Fossil Fuels. When comparing the cost of wind vs. fossil fuels its important to consider fuel costs, integration costs, operating costs, and the cost …… […]

  6. […] Cost of Wind vs. Fossil Fuels – MEIC – Cost of Wind vs. Fossil Fuels. When comparing the cost of wind vs. fossil fuels its important to consider fuel costs, integration costs, operating costs, and the cost …… […]

  7. […] Cost of Wind vs. Fossil Fuels – MEIC – Cost of Wind vs. Fossil Fuels. When comparing the cost of wind vs. fossil fuels its important to consider fuel costs, integration costs, operating costs, and the cost …… […]

  8. […] Cost of Wind vs. Fossil Fuels – MEIC – Montana Environmental … – When comparing the cost of wind vs. fossil fuels its important to consider fuel costs, integration costs, … especially coal. In Montana, wind energy is less expensive than coal for NorthWestern Energy-the state’s largest utility. The graph below from the Montana Public Service Commission, … […]

  9. […] advantage to wind is that after integration prices are stable unlike the fluctuations in oil (MEIC, 2015).” In addition, the technology is advancing and the turbines are increasing in power. (MEIC, […]

  10. […] Cost of Wind vs. Fossil Fuels – MEIC – When comparing the cost of wind vs. fossil fuels its important to consider fuel costs, integration costs, operating costs, and the cost of tax incentives…. […]

  11. […] as wind energy becomes cheaper, Kansas should be more incentivized to make the transition away from fossil fuels. Plus, wind […]

  12. […] of millions of dollars in new wind investments. No wonder: a typical wind project in that state supplies electricity at 4.7 cents per kilowatt-hour, compared to 6.8 cents from coal-fired […]

  13. […] of millions of dollars in new wind investments. No wonder: a typical wind project in that state supplies electricity at 4.7 cents per kilowatt-hour, compared to 6.8 cents from coal-fired […]

  14. […] of dollars in new wind investments. No wonder: a typical wind project in that state supplies electricity at 4.7 cents per kilowatt-hour, compared to 6.8 cents from coal-fired […]

  15. Anonymous says:

    […] of millions of dollars in new wind investments. No wonder: a typical wind project in that state supplies electricity at 4.7 cents per kilowatt-hour, compared to 6.8 cents from coal-fired generation. […]

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