Let's get realistic about wind power. In order to make wind renewables a viable replacement for base loaded coal and nuclear power, we need diversity, and we need a lot of wind. The peak demand in the US is about 800,000 MW. We need about 200,000 MW of wind power that is available 24/7. Since wind at any single wind generator or wind farm in an area runs with about 1/3rd of its installed peak generator power on average, we will need to install about three times the 200,000 MW, or install about 600,000 MW of wind generation to provide a base power 24/7 of 200,000 MW. Let's assume we install 200,000 MW of wind in the great plains and the rest of the 400,000 MW around coastal areas, and out in the oceans a short distance off shore. This entire network of wind generators will need to be interconnected so it appears as a single electrical entity with an output power on average of 200,000 MW.

Now let's consider the transmission needed to interconnect this much wind. I will use the highest voltage lines being constructed in the US, 765 kV, because the overall transmission cost and losses are lowest, as well as taking up less right of way, and needing fewer lines at 765 kV than at lower voltages. A 765 kV line can be designed to economically carry 5000 MW. If we had 200,000 MW wind in the great plains we would need at least 40 of these lines going to the east coast, Texas, and west coast. The average length would be about 1000 miles.

I can tell you from my business activities and modeling of power systems that the current transmission system is not even close to being able to handle this much wind power. I can also say that if the transmission lines were already in place, the wind generation community would be able to deliver those new wind generators of 600,000 MW within a decade. Building the wind generators is not the problem. The problem is building new transmission.

Can we realistically build this much transmission in ten to 20 years? I don't think so. There is simply too much opposition by the public to the construction of new lines, especially in California where environmentalists have strongly opposed power lines, and the eastern US, where the routing of new extra high voltage lines through densely populated areas is nearly impossible. A more realistic expectation is that we will be able to build some of the lines that are needed, but not nearly enough to replace all the coal and nuclear base loaded generation in the US. Believing we can build enough transmission to relace all coal and nuclear power with wind power within a few years is harmful to our society socially, economically, and environmentally because its just not a realistic goal.