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Mike Connor, Starkweather, N.D., Published October 02 2012

Letter: Wind developers milk the system; customers end up paying the bill

I sympathize with workers in Grand Forks who have received pink slips from the wind power company but take issue with Pam Gulleson and others who would immediately roll over and extend the tax break for wind power manufacturers.

These “tax incentive” advocates should check into the current contract that MinnKota Power signed with the developer of the Langdon (N.D.) Wind Farm. The MinnKota board in its infinite wisdom signed a contract agreeing to pay the developer 4.5 cents per kilowatt hour for power produced at the wind farm. Unfortunately, the electric market “went south” in ’08 (along with a lot of other things) and now MinnKota is getting 2.2 cents per kilowatt hour on the open market. This translates into a huge annual loss that is being passed along to all rural electric cooperatives that make up MinnKota plus several other regional private utilities who are also passing the loss onto their customers.

Our REC electric bill has seen a huge 74 to 125 percent increase in the cost of supplemental electric heat. Our REC at first showed the increase as a “surcharge” but now simply folds the increased cost into one bill.

Some readers might say “... too bad, but things will get better.” Unfortunately, the MinnKota board signed a 25-year contract for the purchase of that wind power. I don’t think there are too many folks who would willingly enter into a 25-year contract either as a buyer or a seller, and if you are still not sure, just go into your local banker and ask him to give you a 25-year rate on a CD or loan.

So as a North Dakota electric consumer and taxpayer, I am a bit tired of hearing about the need for an incentive for wind power manufacturing firms. Wind power developers have been milking the system, and the consumer cannot continue to pick up the tab for their double dipping. I have a spreadsheet of our electric bills for any doubting Thomas.