Wind power produces only a light breeze in Nevada

I erroneously reported two years ago that when the Spring Valley Wind project northwest of Great Basin National Park became operational it would generate 150 megawatts of renewable electricity and 13 permanent jobs.

Spring Valley Wind farm

I don’t know about the jobs, but the wattage was a bit off. According to Wind Action, which compiled data from the Energy Information Administration, for 2013 Spring Valley had a capacity factor of only 18.8 percent, meaning it generated power only 18.8 percent of the time. That was one of the lowest ratios in the nation.

That means NV Energy had to produce power from some other source 81.2 percent of the time. Which might not be so bad since the company pays 9.8 cents per kWh, while power from gas and coal plants costs less than half that. The wind turbines’ owners also get a tax break for producing electricity, meaning we have to make up the difference.

Do they still plan to build that wind farm in Searchlight?


10 comments on “Wind power produces only a light breeze in Nevada

  1. ronknecht says:


    18.8% is a typical CF for a wind project. They all have this problem. Supposedly, storage will be the answer — when its very high costs also come down. (My original specialty was power generating economics — covering the full range of technologies from nukes & coal through oil & gas to all the renewables & alts, plus conservation and other demand-side mgmt.) Wrote award-winning masters project in Civ Engr in 1976 on the subject and testified numerous times as expert witness on all of them, esp. nukes, coal & alt’s.) You’ve been spot on in this subject area (and all others, to my recall).


  2. Only two states were lower in CF than Nevada, Ron. Most in the 20s. Nebraska hit nearly 44 percent.

  3. From what I’ve read storage is the answer.

  4. Charles Morgan says:

    When I drove through Spring Valley in March I followed the power lines as best I could. They went into Utah. Does NV Energy get the power at all?

  5. NV Energy has a PPA (purchase power agreement). The lines form a grid and the power is constantly being traded. Remember Enron?

  6. Steve says:

    Storage is the elusive answer..its even vexing Tesla.

  7. […] will mean the turbines will operate even less often, even though in 2013 they operated only 18.8 percent of the time, one of the lowest ratios in the country, according to Wind Action. But fear not for the owners. […]

  8. […] mentions it has a capacity of 520 megawatts, without mentioning in has been producing at less than 20 percent of that capacity at a cost of nearly 10 cents per […]

  9. […] The latest Energy Information Administration report said the plant produced power only 18.8 percent of the time. […]

  10. […] neglects to mention that NV Energy is paying about 10 cents a kilowatt-hour for wholesale power from that wind farm, about what residential customers are currently paying for […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s