Wind energy benefits assessed
WATERTOWN, S.D. -- The Western Area Power Administration has completed a study on wind energy and the benefits it may offer. The study was mandated by the Energy Policy Act of 2005 and is important because it can be used as a guide to help WAPA i...
WATERTOWN, S.D. -- The Western Area Power Administration has completed a study on wind energy and the benefits it may offer. The study was mandated by the Energy Policy Act of 2005 and is important because it can be used as a guide to help WAPA in its future generation and sale of electricity.
The electricity generated by any future wind towers would be used to complement the hydroelectric power WAPA gets from the dams on the Missouri River. Wind power, like hydroelectric power, is a renewable resource and an environmentally friendly power source.
In low water years in the Missouri River Basin, wind power makes more sense; the less water moving through the dams on the river, the less power WAPA produces for sale. And when power production is down, WAPA has to purchase power on the open market to fulfill its contractual obligations. That power is more expensive than hydro and the cost ultimately is passed on to consumers.
If WAPA were to erect a series of wind towers along the Missouri River to produce power, the time of day becomes a factor. WAPA's peak energy demand is during the daylight hours when the winds in central South Dakota aren't blowing at their strongest. Those levels come at night when WAPA's power demand is lower.
WAPA hasn't announced yet whether it plans to produce wind energy to supplement hydro power. But it seems to be an idea worth pursuing, especially since the Missouri River Basin has been in the grips of a drought for the past decade. Wind energy could be a valuable addition to WAPA's power plan and lessen the amount of power it has to purchase on the open market. That's good news for WAPA and consumers, too.