North Dakota Gets Into The Wind: 10,000 Megawatts For The Gubernatorial Election Debate

united states annual average wind power image

Ever driven across North Dakota in August? North Dakota is the US State located top, center on the wind potential map (shown here). Step out of the car and the wind's fingers rip at your shirt buttons, threatening to tear them off. Day after day, wheat stems toss like waves in a storm.

If you've been there and felt that wind, seen the prairie expanses, you know why it is easy to take interest in a gubernatorial platform like this one:

North Dakota should push for 10,000 megawatts of wind power development in the next 12 years along with local ownership of wind projects, the Democratic candidate for governor says.
Via::Canadian Business Online, North Dakota gubernatorial candidate: State should push for 10,000 megawatt wind power goal Image credit::No Outage, US Average Wind MapProgressive Politics, Coal And Wind Power In Perspective
Power developers these days refer to really big fossil power plants as "Super Mega's" Some of the Super-Megas are slated - with multiple coal-fired units on a single site - for combined output of well over a thousand megawatts each. With that kind of output, proximity to a big rail line fed by a massive nearby coal source, and also a high capacity distribution grid, numerous customers, as well as the owners, can benefit from the economies of scale. Dakotas are indeed close to the western coal mines.

North Dakota wind power capacity is currently rated by American Wind Energy Association as worthy of 138,400 megawatts, which, even with a 25% capacity factor (probably low for South Dakota), could likely best numerous coal-fired Super-Megas. Wind produces no ash, has no mercury emissions, results in no mining accidents, would have few railroad hauling impacts during operational phase (noise, dusts, highway blocking, and accidents), has no particulate emissions, and a very small GHG-equivalent footprint over the life cycle. And, this comparison does not even count the added wind power potential of Canada to the north or South Dakota (just below).

What are we waiting for? A national grid upgrade for one thing, which is in no way a partisan issue, nor should it be. In either case - Super-Mega coal vs the Dakota Winds - America needs more grid extensions and interconnections.

You'll see in the cited coverage talk of requiring wind power developers to make public, more information about their revenue streams - presumably to ensure that the hosts (private landowners) know when they are getting a fair share in the form of annual lease fees. This issue could easily become partisan. And, it is reminiscent of an earlier era.

Progressive Politics in North Dakota
Via Wikipedia:

During the early 20th century, North Dakota's politics was generally dominated by the United States Republican Party. Progressive politics was not a factor in North Dakota politics until the 1910s, when a group known as the Non-Partisan League was formed, which ran Progressive candidates in the primaries against Republicans. These reformers succeeded in pushing through a well-defined socialist program, with features that remain in place to this day (i.e., a state-owned bank and state-owned mill and elevator). At least two governors were NPLers. By the 1950s, the NPL had developed into just another part of the political establishment in North Dakota.

What do you think? Good time to push for State regulation of wind power?

More on the Dakotas in TreeHugger
North Dakota May Legalize Hemp Cultivation
Ethanol Refinery in North Dakota Opening Delayed
5.05 Gigawatt Titan Wind Project is... Titanesque!

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