Wind Pie a la Mode

By April 9, 2009Energy

At the Atlantic City hearing on offshore energy development, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar made an exuberant claim about the potential of wind energy.

The idea that wind energy has the potential to replace most of our coal-burning power today is a very real possibility. It is not technology that is pie-in-the sky; it is here and now.

When the chinook winds come blasting across the Colorado plains it may seem that way, but it’s not. Wind generation is rapidly increasing, and that’s a good thing, but it cannot replace coal as a source of baseload power generation.

Wyoming Governor Dave Freudenthal, a fellow Democrat, took sharp issue with the Secretary’s comments yesterday. From the Casper Star-Tribune:

“Ain’t going to happen,” Freudenthal told reporters at an impromptu new conference Wednesday that mostly focused on other topics.

Freudenthal said Salazar’s comments were a “dumb thing to say,” and may provide a teachable moment in which the new interior secretary will learn the wisdom of “not making gratuitous statements.”

Freudenthal added that the importance of coal in the nation’s energy mix is a reality, despite any creative hypotheticals by those in the Beltway.

“That potential (for wind energy to replace coal) is never going to be realized,” said Freudenthal, adding that Salazar’s comment was out of step with other messages from the Obama Administration.

From the Energy Information Administration, “Electric Power Monthly,” March 2009 edition, “Net Generation Shares by Energy Source: Total (All Sectors), Year-to-Date through December, 2008.

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