Wind and other renewable resources initially appear to be more expensive than coal or nuclear generated power. The real cost of conventional power generation is quite heavily subsidized by the taxpayer, ratepayer, as well as governments -- including income guarantees, debt guarantees, guaranteed rate base cost increases and guaranteed rates of return to the investor.
None of these incentives exist for a wind or any renewable energy project. These projects are usually developed by small companies backed by banks or venture capitalists. Renewable energy developers have an uphill battle to connect with the local utility to move the renewable power generated as well as beg for a decent price for their energy. The utility's profit margin on renewable energy is actually greater than it is on base generation.
The electric companies will not sign a power purchase agreement that does not give them all of the renewable energy environmental benefits which they strip off and sell for additional profits. The investor-owned utilities in Ohio will not even pay average wholesale prices for renewable energy. They bring out the meaningless "avoided cost" number. The investor-owned utilities are trying this again with the state's proposed Renewable Portfolio Standard now working its way through the Ohio legislature.
The real cost of conventional energy is the environmental costs that effect our daily lives. Conventional power generators do not have to pay this price, we as citizens of Ohio pay it.
The cleanest coal fired plant in Ohio produces 3,700 tons of nitrogen oxides per megawatt-year. A landfill gas to energy system produces 13 tons of nitrogen-oxides per megawatt year and no sulfur dioxides. Do the math!