Murphy’s Law 2019 #49 Wind Power Transmission

October 23, 2019

EDTC (Energy Development and Transmission Committee) met on Wednesday to discuss the North Dakota transmission grid status. A testifier from NextEra (which is the world’s largest utility by market capitalization) and other wind energy officials to follow stated that the outflow of electrons from North Dakota is basically maxed out. This makes sense given that we are such a rich energy producer with a tiny population. In other words, we need to export our energy because we have a relatively small load or need here. Therefore, any new source of electricity must supplant or kick off something else if it wants to get exported. Creating new transmission lines is usually prohibitively expensive. What keeps wind building and solar sources hopeful in this situation is that the demand for renewable energy keeps building outside of our state. This in the face of slack demand for energy nationwide. That is correct – even though our country continues to grow in population, conservation and other efficiencies have created a flat and even slightly lower demand for electrons. North Dakota bucks this trend with increasing energy needs in the western part of our state especially, but this is not nearly enough demand to help the overall glut. This information mildly surprised me and it is good to be aware of. Other testifiers explained how ND taxes wind and how wind tower fields are sited in case the committee decides to take up any related bills for the next session beginning in January of 2021. While my water problems pale in comparison to those of you producers, it was good to get back home so I can keep an eye on my two full time sump pumps. Misery loves company.