Index: Environment / Subcategory: Use of Resources

Wind Energy Consumption

Date updated: 03/19/2013

Wind energy's most important environmental benefit is its lack of pollutants and greenhouse gas air emissions. According to the Energy Information Administration (EIA), other methods of electricity generation (coal, oil, and natural gas) produce a variety of emissions such as carbon dioxide, sulfur dioxide, and nitrogen oxides (see links for more information on these gases). In contrast, wind energy generation produces 0 pounds of pollutants and greenhouse gases and is a renewable resource.

Wind energy is generated through wind farms, which are systems of turbines powered by natural air movements. Area wind farms include Xcel Energy's Ponnequin Wind Farm and Platte River Power Authority's Medicine Bow Wind Project. In the fall of 2009 the Silver Sage Wind Site, owned and operated by Duke Energy, was put into operation. Platte River Power Authority contracts to purchase 12 MW of wind energy from the Silver Sage Wind Site.

When wind energy is generated, it becomes part of the total power grid. As such, energy suppliers cannot ensure that all the electricity used by wind energy customers is wind-generated. However, utility companies are required to match the electricity use of wind energy customers by producing a corresponding amount of wind-generated electricity.

Utility suppliers of wind energy in Larimer County include:

Electricity is usually measured in kilowatt-hours (kWh). One kWh represents the amount of energy needed by a 1000-Watt device (e.g. clothes-iron, microwave oven) to operate for one hour. Leaving a 100-Watt light bulb on for 10 hours consumes 1 kWh of energy. According to the U.S. Department of Energy [pdf], the average American household uses about 11,800 kWh per year. The DOE has a list of many common household appliances and their corresponding typical wattage use.

What this chart shows: Wind Energy Generated at the Medicine Bow Wind Project Site, 2003-2012

*Silver Sage went online as of September 2009

Data Source: Platte River Power Authority (data not available online)

See data table

What the above data tell us:

In 1999 there were only 2 wind turbines at Medicine Bow, but by 2002 that number increased to 10. By the end of 2002, the project was producing more than 19 million kWh of electricity. The amount generated is equivalent to the yearly electricity needs of approximately 1,600 average U.S. households, based on the average consumption of 11,800 kWh per year.

In 2005 Platte River Power Authority leased land to Clipper Windpower for a 2.5 MW prototype turbine, the Liberty I, and all power produced by the Liberty I was purchased by Platte River Power Authority. Because the Liberty I was a prototype, there were many maintenance and performance issues that reduced the amount of power produced in 2007. Those issues were resolved in 2008 but other issues subsequently arose and the Liberty I has been offline since 2009.

In September 2009, the Silver Sage Wind Site, owned and operated by Duke Energy, was put into operation. Platte River Power Authority contracts with Duke to purchase 12 MW of wind energy from this site.

What this chart shows: Renewable Energy Purchased in Fort Collins, 2003-2012

Data Source: Platte River Power Authority (data not available online)

See data table

What the above data tell us:

From 2003 to 2007, wind energy consumption in Fort Collins increased by about 80.1 million kWh, or 622%. This increase is equivalent to the yearly electricity usage of approximately 6,780 average U.S. households. The increase is due to additional wind turbines at the Medicine Bow Wind Project, an increase in the number of commercial and residential customers purchasing wind energy, and an energy policy [pdf] adopted by the City of Fort Collins in 2003.

What this chart shows: Renewable Energy Purchased in Loveland, 2003-2012

Data Source: Platte River Power Authority (data not available online)

See data table

What the above data tell us:

From 2003 to 2009, wind energy consumption in Loveland increased by about 6.2 million kWh, or 683%. This increase represents the yearly electricity usage of approximately 525 average United States households. The largest increase in renewable energy took place between 2005 and 2009 and was due, according to City of Loveland Water & Power Department staff, to a dedicated full-time conservation marketing employee.

The City of Loveland's GreenSwitch program is 100% voluntary and costs an additional $2.70 per 100 kWh block. The average American household consumes 11,800 kWh per year.

Additional Information:

Related Information on COMPASS -

Other Resources -

Data Tables:

Wind Energy Generated at the Medicine Bow Wind Project Site

Year

Megawatt-hours (MWh) Generated

Medicine Bow

Silver Sage

2003

16,723

n/a

2004

17,032

n/a

2005

17,078

n/a

2006

21,686

n/a

2007

16,937

n/a

2008

25,364

n/a

2009

23,595

10,822

2010

21,195

35,754

2011

16,629

39,015

2012

17,493

36,857

See chart

Wind Energy Purchased in Fort Collins

Year

Megawatt-hours (MWh) Purchased

2003

12,878

2004

31,400

2005

31,499

2006

45,600

2007

93,000

2008

93,000

2009

95,000

2010

96,000

2011

96,000

2012

76,000

See chart

Wind Energy Purchased in Loveland

Year

Megawatt-hours (MWh) Purchased

2003

904

2004

934

2005

1,019

2006

1,773

2007

4,700

2008

6,000

2009

7,078

2010

6,500

2011

6,600

2012

6,700

See chart