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Port: The real consequences of wind power are looming

Wind turbines dot the landscape around Courtenay, N.D. Forum News Service file photo
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MINOT, N.D. — On three recent occasions, our regional power grid nearly ran out of power.

That's per testimony submitted to the most recent meeting of the North Dakota Legislature's interim Energy Development and Transmission Committee .

How many of you knew?

Bitterly cold weather in January of 2018 and January of 2019 caused MISO — the Midcontinent Independent System Operator, or "the power grid" in our part of the world — to seek energy from neighboring grids.

In September 2018, scorching temperatures forced a similar outcome.


We were lucky our neighbors had the energy to spare.

Had these weather patterns been less regional in scale, they might not have.

Those situations occurred even as we lose baseload power generation. Coal Creek Station, a massive coal-fired facility operated by Great River Energy in central North Dakota, is teetering on the edge of insolvency.

The company has said they will decide the future of that plant next year, but privately insiders say they were very close to announcing a closure this year.

You've probably heard about the California brownouts from the early 2000s , a terrible situation caused by energy market manipulations and myopic government regulation.

We do not enjoy California's temperate weather. A brownout during winter in North Dakota is probably going to kill some people. At the very least, it would put lives and property in serious jeopardy.

Are we not also manipulating the energy markets in North Dakota, and America, in favor of wind? Are we not creating a similar moral hazard?

The wind industry, pursuing massive government subsidies which never seem to expire when the politicians tell us they will, continues a push for more turbines.


Regulatory hearings and legislative committee rooms are routinely packed by wind industry lobbyists, lawyers, and astroturf groups seeking to drown out anyone voicing concern.

They've been effective. Many North Dakotans are hoodwinked.

Meanwhile, transmission planners are "are out of options to stretch the grid further without major costs," John Weeda of the North Dakota Transmission Authority said in a presentation late last year .

The "general public does not have an awareness of the magnitude of transmission lines and generation facilities that are needed for the desired low carbon future," he said in a presentation to the state Legislature in February .

Can we force wind to work?

Maybe, but it's going to cost us. According to Weeda , the push to wind will require us to prepare "for the impact of transitioning the grid in terms of land use, visual impacts and cost so landowner fatigue or ratepayer resistance does not prevent the vision."

The wind industry folks get rich, and we taxpayers and ratepayers bear the costs.

All to propagate a source of energy that is more expensive and less reliable than an already existing coal-fired power plant sitting on top of a lignite mine.


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Rob Port, founder of, is a Forum Communications commentator. Reach him on Twitter at @robport or via email at .

Related Topics: NORTH DAKOTA
Rob Port is a news reporter, columnist, and podcast host for the Forum News Service. He has an extensive background in investigations and public records. He has covered political events in North Dakota and the upper Midwest for two decades. Reach him at Click here to subscribe to his Plain Talk podcast.
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