May 19, 2010 - Cape Wind rate impacts

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

One thing to keep in mind as we kick around the question of the value of resources like Cape Wind is that -- at least at first -- these more expensive resources will only be one part of the supply mix. According to National Grid, its Massachusetts operations have a historical peak load of 5,067 MWs. The total project size for Cape Wind is about 468 MW, or just about 9% of the peak load. Although ratepayers' exposure is to MWh from the project, the MW capacity figures give approximate values.

Let's do some rough math. Assume the status quo is sourcing 100% of your power from 8 cent/kWh resources. Now, through the proposed contracts, assume that 10% of the power comes from 21 cent/kWh resources. (Again, this is assuming that these ratepayers are exposed to 100% of the Cape Wind power costs -- when in practice National Grid plans to keep only half of the output for itself.) In such a case, the price of power goes to 9.3 cents/kWh -- a 16% increase in total cost.

Adding more data and specificity: National Grid is expecting to average about 90 MW of production, given the fact that the wind isn't always favorable for maximum production. This lowers the rate impact of blending in the power purchase. In fact, looking at even more specific numbers: analysts predict that an average National Grid ratepayer using 500 kWh/month will see a rate hike of $1.59/month.

While the price per kWh seems high, is it more "worth it" given that the price impacts are tempered by being blended into existing resource costs?

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