MID 2004 Annual Report and Consolidated Financial Statements

Going Green

Renewable or “green” energy has excited the popular imagination since the early 1980s. Unending supplies and less pollution are the benefits most often mentioned.

Wind Generates Excitement

Windmill PhotographRenewable energy sources include wind, biomass (such as wood waste), landfill or sewage treatment gases, geothermal, solar, tidal currents or ocean waves, and hydropower plants that generate less than 30 megawatts.

Renewable Reality Check

Many people mistakenly believe that renewable energy costs less than conventional energy sources like natural gas. Truth be told, going green costs more - sometimes substantially more. Take solar power, for instance. Electricity from utility-sized solar arrays costs $150-$400 per megawatthour (MWh), compared to a clean-burning gas turbine at about $50-$60 per MWh.

Sometimes renewable resources aren’t available where and when you need them. For example, in MID’s service area there are no good locations to place wind turbines. On the hottest afternoons, the wind may not even be blowing. Some wind farm locations have limited access to the state’s electric transmission grid.

Put into perspective, no electric resource is a sure thing—all have plusses, minuses, and risks. MID’s philosophy is that a balanced, diverse electric resource mix is the best way to keep supplies reliable and rates reasonable for all our customers.

One Step At A Time

A 2002 California law mandates that investor-owned electric utilities plan enough investments in renewable energy to be “20 percent green by 2017.” Publicly owned utilities like MID are also encouraged to derive 20 percent of retail electric sales from renewable sources by that year. Our present focus is on wind generation, the least expensive renewable technology. In 2004, MID bought a block of power produced at the High Winds Project, located in Solano County. This 10-year purchase represents about three percent of MID’s present energy resource mix.

High Winds: Not Your Father’s Windmills

Wind turbines are a familiar sight for northern California commuters heading over the Altamont Pass toward San Francisco. Compared to earlier wind technology, the turbines at High Winds are twice as tall and generate more power, more efficiently. They also turn more slowly, making it easier for hawks and other raptors to see the blades, and greatly reducing the impact on avian populations.

High Winds Project Statistics

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Produced by the MID Public Affairs Department The complete report (PDF) combines the MID Annual Report and the MID 2003 Consolidated Financial Statements. The Consolidated Financial Statements are also available here separately (PDF). To order a printed copy of the MID 2003 Annual Report, contact the MID Finance & General Services Division at (209) 526-7473.

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