Duncan_Wind is a pure and clean form of energy blowing its way across the country. It's "green," and although its popularity is growing, Duncan Power Electric (DPE) says there are still some obstacles taking the "wind out of its sails." In 2003, Duncan residents were able to opt for wind energy services for the first time, and DPE says the demand for it was booming until 2005 due to a lack of availability.
While there is no lack of wind in the area, there is a lack of funding for a supplemental energy source. Duncan Power says that if the wind isn't blowing, their customers still will need power - and, that power comes from costly natural gas.
For the past two years, Duncan residents have not been able to opt out of natural gas and opt in for wind. "We haven't been able to add wind customers because we can't sell a product for less than it costs us to make it," said DPE Director David Yeager. Natural gas prices have fluctuated so much that DPE says it has had to put a hold on wind energy - something Yeager says would never happen to any other energy source. "It's a constant price [wind]," he says. "Where the fuel cost might fluctuate [with natural gas,] it makes it hard for people to budget. On our wind price we set it once a year, so they know for a year what that wind price option will be."
In 25 years, Yeager says he has never heard so many customers ask DPE about wind energy. He says they worry about having no electricity if there is no wind. "The answer to that is no," he said. Up until the freeze on new wind customers, DPE had no choice but to absorb the excess costs for supplemental energy such as gas. "Well, if the wind doesn't blow tomorrow, there's this chunk of power that the wind was scheduled to meet that is not there," he said. "So you've got to have something to bring online - and do it quick."
The economy is also having an impact on wind sales, as the credit crunch is affecting everything from obtaining loans for turbines, to arranging financing and completing mergers and acquisitions. For example, only a year ago, tax subsidies paid more than 60% of capital lost for a typical wind farm; now, that percentage has dropped to 50%.If you are a Duncan resident and are in the market for some wind power, you are in luck. In January, 2009, prices for wind will increase by one-cent allowing DPE to take on more customers.