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Jan 11, 201708:39 PMOpen Mic

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Wind, solar energy ready for prime time in Wisconsin and beyond

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Last month, In Business published an interview with Wayne Winegarden, a George Mason University economist and senior fellow at the Pacific Research Institute.

It is important for readers to understand that Mr. Winegarden’s views on wind, solar, and nuclear power production are not representative of what we’re seeing in the marketplace today in Wisconsin or throughout the country.

The cost of both solar and wind technologies have dropped over 60% in the past seven years. Today, a utility or business can contract or build a wind farm, and the power will be cheaper than any other new resource, including natural gas, from today through 2040.

Moreover, corporations across America are investing directly in renewable energy projects at unprecedented levels. Over 60 companies, including the likes of Wal-Mart, Target, Google, Amazon, General Motors, and more have banded together to form the “Corporate Buyers Principles” asking power companies to offer more renewable energy programs for them.

Citizens and businesses alike are installing more solar power than ever, because doing so will save money. In Madison, nearly 40 homeowners installed solar through the city’s MadiSUN program last year. Businesses like Isthmus Engineering, Central Storage & Warehouse, Steep & Brew, new apartment complexes, and so many more are installing solar, as well.

On the contrary, nuclear energy is not faring well in the competitive market. In Wisconsin, the Kewaunee Nuclear Plant was shut down a couple years ago because it couldn’t compete in the Midwest’s wholesale grid.

One utility in America is trying to build a new nuclear plant, and the stats surrounding it are chilling, especially for someone concerned about the costs of energy to low-income customers, as Mr. Winegarden is.

The project is called the Vogtle Nuclear Plant and is being constructed in Georgia. Here’s what we know:

  • The original budget of $14 billion is now projected as $21 billion.
  • Construction is barely more than one-fourth of the way done — even though it started five years ago — but is already 39 months behind!
  • Millions of dollars per day are being added to the cost based on these delays.

There is no assurance that any other nuclear power plant constructed in the U.S. would fare any differently.


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