With all the talk about climate change, Green New Deal and “rush to renewables,” I do not think the public is getting a full understanding of what is involved.
There seems to be a distinct lack of clarity in the claims made by renewable power proponents. The statistic for the amount of power they will generate is usually given as simply kilowatts or megawatts.
The latest TH article about the solar installation in Wisconsin reported it would produce 250 megawatts of electricity that would power tens of thousands of homes. The trouble is that we pay for our electricity according to “kilowatt hours” not by “kilowatts.” We pay for how many hours those kilowatts are used.
I am not an electrical power expert, but I do know that no matter how many acres of solar panels we have, there will not be enough electricity to light one bulb when it goes completely dark.
So, I assume all those megawatts produced by the solar installations are only produced for a relatively short period during maximum sun time. Where do we get our power at night? The same question can be asked of the windmills, substituting wind speeds for daylight hours.
This transformation to a high percentage of renewable energy is not going to be cheap. The sun and the wind are free, but the hardware and technology to harvest those sources are not free and not necessarily cheap.
I suspect the 25% base rate increase requested by Alliant is a down payment on ongoing development.
Editor’s note: U.S. Department of Energy information notes that when conditions do not permit creation of alternative energy, systems can switch to the electric grid or call upon energy previously stored in battery systems.