TRUTH: The cost of wind energy is now competitive with that of conventional power plants. In fact, wind energy is the cheapest form of new power generation, second only to natural gas. In the past 20 years, the cost of electricity from utility-scale wind systems has decreased by more than 80%. In the 1980s, wind-generated energy cost roughly 30 cents per kilowatt-hour. Today, this number has dropped to less than 5 cents per kilowatt-hour – a price that is now aggressive with many conventional energy technologies.

This dramatic decrease in price can be attributed to an increase in supply generated from the growing number of plants being built and their increasing size. Advancements in technology have also greatly helped lower the cost of wind energy. The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) is working towards developing a new generation of wind turbine technology that is expected to generate electricity at prices competitive with natural gas generation – the least expensive conventional power source.

When compared to other renewable energy sources, wind is more cost-effective. Solar and geothermal energy can cost almost twice as much as wind. Other forms of energy such as coal and natural gas are subject to extreme price fluctuations and supply problems that do not affect wind energy. Furthermore, fossil fuels have many hidden costs that are not associated with wind energy. Society must pay for the negative environmental effects of fossil fuel energy such as polluted air and water, fuel spills, health care costs, and global warming. According to the American Lung Association, power plant particle pollution has been linked to roughly 600,000 asthma episodes per year, increasing patients’ use of asthma medication and emergency hospital visits. Health costs due to outdoor air pollution have been estimated to range from $14 to $15 billion each year.

Contrarily, wind energy does not pollute the air and has, overall, a much more positive effect on the environment. Because wind power is not a direct source of pollutants such as nitrogen oxides, sulfur dioxide, and mercury, the hidden costs described above from fossil fuel energy are avoided.

Finally, wind energy can utilize the federal production tax credit to make it competitive with heavily subsidized, conventional forms of energy. The credit reduces the tax liability of a wind farm’s owners and cuts the cost of wind energy to the consumer. Also, with an effective location, wind turbines that last about 30 years can pay for themselves within the first 15 and provide landowners with long-term income. Despite the fact that wind is unpredictable and does not reach full capacity 100% of the time, the overall cost of wind energy will always be cheaper.

With production costs dropping, wind energy is becoming an increasingly competitive source for energy. Fueled by its economic value and environmental benefits, it is expected that by 2030, wind could meet 20% or more of the United States’ electricity demand. It is expected that further increases in wind farm size along with the development of new technologies will continue to decrease the price of wind energy in the future.