Are windmills analogous to agriculture?

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Agricultural subsidies now take the form of premiums for crop or revenue insurance. To qualify, an enterprise must publicly register its production history. Insurance payments happen only when production falls a certain amount below the historical average.

If windmills are analogous to agriculture, as the U-B is fond of insisting (“Farming the wind”, “Harvesting a new crop”), then their subsidies should be held to the same standard.

Payments would be made only when unusual acts of Mother Nature cause income based on production to fall significantly below average.

Here are the averages for 2012 so far, for windmills in BPA’s balancing authority, based on published wind speeds: for windmills in the Goodnoe Hills area, 25 percent of capacity; near Patterson, 33 percent of capacity; Walla Walla to Pasco, 12 percent of capacity; and for Columbia and Garfield Counties, 3 percent of capacity.

Windmills must produce at the average rate of 11 percent of their capacity, just to support their own useage; otherwise, there is nothing left over to send to the grid. What kind of an act of Mother Nature would it take to push production below average, when the average for most of the windmills in this area is essentially nothing?

Perhaps windmills aren’t analogous to agriculture, after all.

Jim Thorn

Dayton

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