Negative Power Prices Due to Wind Power’s Subsidy

Michael Giberson

On the Green blog, Matthew Wald reports on “An argument over wind.” The issue is the scheduled-to-expire Production Tax Credit for wind power. As previously mentioned here, former PTC-supporter Exelon Corp. has come out against the PTC extension. It parted ways from the American Wind Energy Association, of which it had long been a member, over the issue.

Wald reports on an Exelon-funded study done by The NorthBridge Group, “Negative Electricity Prices and the Production Tax Credit.” According to Wald:

The study sponsored by Exelon, prepared by the NorthBridge Group, which does extensive consulting for utilities around the country, found pockets where the number of negative hours reached 12 percent or more. While various types of electricity generation have received subsidies over the decades, said Frank Huntowski, one of the authors, “I don’t think we’ve seen something as dramatic as this.’’ …

Negative pricing occurs mostly on spring and fall nights when the wind is blowing strongly but offices, stores and factories are mostly closed and temperatures are so mild that there is virtually no demand for home heating or air-conditioning. The phenomenon existed before the surge in construction of wind machines, but the new industry is making it worse, some industry participants say, especially for companies with baseload plants that were built to run at a steady rate around the clock.

That is a special problem for Exelon, which runs many nuclear plants in the Midwest; nuclear plants cannot change their output quickly.

Long-time readers may recall that we’ve discussed negative power prices many times before here on Knowledge Problem. This link will execute a search of the KP archives: negative+prices.