Midwestern wind farms reduce need for coal-fired power

The rise of low-cost wind power in the Great Plains region could trigger early retirements for several of the region’s coal-fired power plants, according to a report released this month by Moody’s Investors Service.

Midwestern utility companies, particularly those in Iowa and Kansas, have found that cheap and efficient wind power is an all-around boon for business–more wind power assets lower rates for customers, bring higher earnings for investors and provide a cleaner energy portfolio.

On average, power purchase agreements for wind in the Great Plains region are $20 per megawatt hour, as compared to an average $30 per megawatt hour for coal, according to the report, “U.S. Power and Utilities: Rate-Basing Wind Generation Adds Momentum to Renewables.”

“Wind power economics are driving coal generation up the dispatch curve and into earlier retirement,” said Jairo Chung, a Moody’s analyst, in a statement. “Around 56 gigawatts of regulated coal-fired capacity in the Midwest has operating costs that are higher than the all-in costs of new wind power.”