During the “polar vortex” deep freeze that occurred one year ago today, wind energy saved electricity users in the Mid-Atlantic and Great Lakes states at least $1 billion in just two days. That’s according to new analysis that the American Wind Energy Association released today.
Prices also skyrocketed as grid operators scrambled to deal with unexpected outages at more than 20 percent of their conventional generating fleet, while wind plants continued producing at or above expectations, keeping the lights on and prices low. These events are a powerful reminder that wind energy plays a critical role in diversifying our energy mix, improving energy reliability and protecting consumers from price spikes.
For the two days of Jan. 6 and 7, 2014, alone, the savings from using fixed-price wind energy added up to about $15 per consumer on the Mid-Atlantic and Great Lakes power grid (PJM) -- or enough to buy every single person in the region a movie and popcorn. As seen in the chart below, PJM’s electricity prices were much higher on these dates than the average (indicated by the red line), but the green area shows that power prices would have spiked much higher were it not for abundant supplies of wind power during this critical time period.
In both last year’s cold snap and the current one, wind energy is providing large quantities of critical electricity supply when it’s needed the most, helping keeping the lights on and reducing the impact of energy price spikes. By replacing generation from the most expensive and volatilely-priced power plants with fixed-price, zero-fuel-cost wind energy, consumers are made better off, as shown in the table below.