The need for approval of Invenergy’s application is, in my mind, quite simple. We need it. The county needs it. The rate payers of Colorado and eventually many other states need it. Twenty years ago when the wind towers went up south of Lamar, they had 1.5 megawatts turbines. At that time quite a bit of the push was environmental. The world has changed. When you look up the levelized cost of electric energy production, you find that wind generated electricity 20 years ago was more costly than coal derived electricity. Today the cost of wind generated electricity is the lowest cost due to many changes in technology and efficiency. The fact that they can hang a 5 megawatt turbine on a single tower greatly reduced the cost of that power against all of the costs of the installation of the concrete in the ground to the tip of the blades. This is what is called levelized cost of electricity. Levelized graph is attached.
Many of us falsely assumed that in the future we would be going back to smaller and more efficient nuclear power plants as did Tri State. Now when we look at levelized cost, nuclear instead of going down over time has gone up. My personal opinion is that the cost of building a new nuclear power plant today and the cost of maintaining that facility has gone through the roof.
What’s happening in our area of eastern Colorado and western Kansas is probably just the beginning. Today it appears that power generated in Kiowa County is going to go to the west. This also will likely change when the grain belt pathway is completed from Indianapolis, IN to Dodge City, KS. NOAA says that the center of the best wind, not necessarily the strongest, but the steadiest breeze, is in Dodge City, KS. Upon the completion of this major transmission line, it will connect power generated in our area to the central grid and the eastern grid. When I look at existing transmission lines leading from Indianapolis, I see two that go directly into New York City. It appears to me that if this area produces the lowest net cost of electricity, we will eventually be sending power coast to coast.
Therefore, electric rate payers of a vast area will benefit from power produced in Kiowa County. The grain belt pathway is a project of Invenergy and will likely cost billions to complete, but one can see the need for the interconnection between the different grids across the country.
Even though the cost of electricity is the driving force behind wind power today, I must still give a tip of the hat to the environmental issues. When I moved to Colorado 63 years ago, my purpose in life was to grow wheat. Then somebody changed our weather patterns. Today our smallest acreage is wheat. The changes that I see coming are perhaps best stated by Justin Worland – Time Magazine in a report on EV vehicles. “There is a lesson here for companies in other sectors: ignore the energy transition at your own risk. Demand for clean technologies will shape a range of products and services; first movers will be rewarded.”