Technology Corridor

Deck: 
How the wind farm capacity factor and a tax subsidy can beef up a utility's bottom line.
Fortnightly Magazine - August 2003
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How the wind farm capacity factor and a tax subsidy can beef up a utility's bottom line.

Many interested by a profit motive or an environmental motive wax eloquently about the economy of wind farms to generate electricity, since wind energy is an environmentally friendly source of energy or "green power." Thus, the interest in wind farms attracts the attention of citizens, environmental groups, politicians, and commercial companies.

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With this diverse interest, a sense of direction is needed to bring a reality check on the economics of wind farms. Consider the following example for a large-scale wind farm.

MidAmerican Energy Inc. plans to build the world's largest wind energy generation project in Iowa.1 The reportedly $323 million project will consist of 180 to 200 wind turbines and have a capacity of 310 MW. An additional capital cost of $15 million for interconnecting and development adds up to a total estimated capital cost of $338 million for the economic evaluation. Landowners will be paid $4,000 per turbine annually for easements.

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