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Wind Power’s Spotty Record
Rupert Darwall’s excellent article “Free Markets Mean Cheaper Energy” (June 17) had a minor, but salient, error. He correctly noted that Danish electricity spot prices sometimes go negative because of the imbalance in the supply/demand equation introduced by windmills (or, in Mark Steyn’s parlance, “condor Cuisinarts”), but stated that it could happen in the United States. It happens now! As Illinois continues to shed manufacturing plants, and as those remaining generally operate less than 24 hours per day, peak electrical demand in the early morning hours has dropped dramatically. Illinois also happens to be the fourth-largest wind-generation state, and the spot prices of ComEd (which supplies the northern portion of the state) routinely go negative on windy nights. Proponents of wind power often calculate the payback of their bird blenders using the average price of electricity, ignoring the blenders’ effect of pushing prices down precisely when they’re at maximum output!

Terry Smith
Energy consultant
Northwest Illinois Automation
Lanark, Ill.