So Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley wants to jump on the green energy bandwagon and install offshore wind power. O’Malley is arguing that estimates it could increase electric utility bills by as much as $9 a month are overblown, but in any case, like eating peas and broccoli, it’s good for you: “The difference is . . . that over the long term, it’s actually better for consumers,” O’Malley told the Post. The surcharge necessary to pay for the wind power will go away some day, he hopes. This is like the logic of the retailer who loses money on every unit he sells, but plans to make up for it in volume.
Let’s go to the data. The table below presents the latest Department of Energy estimates for the “levelized” cost (that is, the total capital and operating costs) of various sources of electricity, showing that offshore wind only provides power about one-third of the time (that’s the “capacity” rate), and is the second-most expensive form of electricity after solar-thermal power, at $243.2 per megawatt hour, compared to only $66.1 for combined-cycle natural gas (which can provide electricity 87 percent of the time), and $97 for onshore wind.