I Missed This One

Palm Springs, California

February 12, 2021

I smiled when I saw the rainbow ending on this wind farm.

In the late 90s I came to Palm Springs and toured many of the wind farms near here. Those projects were built with first generation technology and I was looking at whether retrofitting using newer technology could improve the output and thereby increase their cash flow. I concluded that the only folks who would win in that scenario were the blade manufacturers. Prices for electricity were low due to abundant natural gas.

Twnety-five years on, there are a number of companies and people who have done quite well for themselves building wind farms - some in California but most in the center of the country where the wind blows harder and more consistently. Texas and Oklahoma are two such places.

Developing a wind farm is fairly straight forward. You need to lease the land, hire a consultant to do a wind study to site tge turbines, a good wind turbine price (it’s a competitive business now) and a contract to sell the power. The biggest player in the US is Nextera out of Florida. Charlottesville is home to a major player, too - Apex Clean Energy. Alas Apex said I was too senior to join them. At least I tried.

Back in the 1990s, I didn’t see the confluence of factors that would propel the exponential growth of the US wind power industry. Tip of the hat to those who came into the industry a few years later and drove/rode the gravy train.

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