Wind Power Is Becoming a Better Bargain, reads the headline buried on page A27 of today's Sunday New York Times (and below the fold on the web). Natural gas prices in New Mexico are three times higher than they were a few years ago, so the state is turning to wind power to keep costs down. Wind doesn't yet supply a huge percentage of the state's energy, but New Mexico is looking ahead:
Wind energy makes up a small fraction of electric generation in this country, but the rising price of natural gas has made wind look like a bargain; in some cases, it is cheaper to build a wind turbine and let existing natural gas generators stand idle. Giant, modern wind farms like the New Mexico Wind Energy Center here may become more common if prices continue to rise
The center, 150 miles east of Albuquerque, opened in the summer of 2003 and is one of the largest in the country. The power is bought by the state's largest utility, Public Service of New Mexico, and provides about 4 percent of that company's electricity over the course of a year. In March, when demand is low and winds are usually strong, the project generates 10 percent of the electricity the company supplies. The state has established a goal of using 10 percent renewable energy by 2011. The governor, Bill Richardson, a former secretary of energy, has said that New Mexico could become "the Saudi Arabia of renewables."