I have studied windpower in detail. Some of the best data comes from Europe since they have built and used windmills to generate power for quite some time. In doing this analysis one must be quite careful because much of what you see on the net is very misleading. For example, many websites say that you can generate electricity at $.05/kwhr with windpower. However, when you get the studies and dig in to them you find out that number comes from a full utilization (remember, wind does not blow at full strength all the time - the correct number is between 25% to 28%) and usually does not include the cost of land, the interconnection cost (i.e. getting power to market), and manitainence. When you look at fully amortised costs with true utilisation, the costs are about $.18/kwhr. This is, in fact, what the windfarms charge the utility companies in California (by California law they have to buy it).
Since you can generate electricty at $.03 to $.05 by coal and $.07 to $.09 by natural gas; it becomes obvious that without series tax subsidies, wind power is not economical. My question about windpower is always this, when the consumer sees his electric bill more then doubled will the political will to use windpower survive?
The danger to USA's well-being is not socialized medicine, bail-out of bad banks, but Cap and Trade Laws ! It is not only a new tax but would be an administrative nightmare. Who has the Wisdom to set the caps accurately and without favoritism ?
as a reply to the capacity utilization question. I was question when I said that west Texas' actual utilization was 28%. From wickipedia:
The ratio of actual productivity in a year to this theoretical maximum is called the capacity factor. Typical capacity factors are 20-40%, with values at the upper end of the range in particularly favourable sites.
I can tell you from my personal study that 25 to 28% is more factual.