Local Media Glosses Over High Cost of Stoneray Wind Farm

A piece in Friday’s Pipestone County Star reported that 39 industrial wind turbines with a total capacity of 101 megawatts would be built, comprising the Stoneray Wind Project in eastern Pipestone County and western Murray County.  Unfortuantely, the article reads more like a press release for the wind company, EDF, than a balanced article on project.

First of all, there is zero mention of how much this project will cost Minnesota consumers, which is significant.

  • According to the Minnesota Public Utilities filings, this project will cost between $160 to $232 million to construct. Federal tax credits will shield customers from feeling the full brunt of this expense, but South Minnesota Municipal Power Agency (SMMPA) can expect to see their bills increase when these subsidies go away.

Secondly, the paper should have acknowledged that this wind farm may generate far less electricity than advertised.

  • The article said: “At full capacity, the electricity generated by the wind farm will be enough to meet the consumption of up to 47,000 average Minnesota homes [for a year].”
  • Actual electricity production will potentially be far less than this, depending on the weather.
    • For example, if the project were to run 100 percent of time time, it would provide enough electricity for about 88,000 homes, but of course, this isn’t the case.
    • Assuming a 45 percent capacity factor, which is pretty much as good as it gets in Minnesota, it would generate enough electricity for 44,000 homes for a year.
    • However, if it only performs at the Minnesota fleet average of 35.5 percent capacity factor, it will only power enough power for 34,000 homes, a decline of nearly 23 percent.

Thirdly, the households served by these turbines will still rely on electricity from coal, and natural gas when the wind isn’t blowing. This means they are now paying for two sources of electricity instead of one, which drives up prices.

Lastly, local municipal power suppliers like Southern Minnesota Municipal Power Agency (SMMPA), who will purchase the electricity from the wind farm, are hurt by the state’s renewable energy mandate because it forces them to buy expensive electricity from wind suppliers.

We need to end the mandates and end the madness.