By Catharine Richert
Boosting Minnesota's green energy production will be good for Minnesota's environment and for its economy, says Matt Entenza, a DFL candidate for governor.
"Every wind turbine that we put up in Minnesota in our productive areas makes as much money as an oil well does in Texas," he told viewers of a June 1, 2010, virtual town hall.
In fact, when it comes to profitability, wind turbines and oil wells bring in a comparable amount of cash.
Dissecting Entenza's claim requires a bit of math.
Entenza campaign makes the conservative estimate that each turbine operates at 25 percent capacity - or the average wind turbine produces about 3,285 megawatt hours annually. But experts in the Minnesota wind industry say that's a conservative estimate as most turbines in the state operate at between 30 and 40 percent capacity.
At about $79 for every megawatt hour of wind energy, that adds up to $260,500 annually.
How do oil wells compare?
Entenza isn't talking about the drilling behemoths off the coast of Texas. Rather, he's referring to small operations that produce less than 10 barrels a day - and make up 80 percent of the drilling in Texas.
Entenza's campaign predicts that, on average, these wells produce nine barrels a day and make $244,929 annually; according to the Energy Information Administration, these wells actually average about 7.3 barrels a year, driving down that sum to $198,665 annually.
So, Minnesota wind turbines make as much, if not more, than most oil wells in Texas.
No matter how you dice the numbers, wind turbines and oil wells are comparable when it comes to profitability.
Entenza's claim is accurate.
Matt Entenza for Governor, virtual town hall meeting, June 1, 2010
Texas Railroad Commission, Oil Production and Well Counts (1935-2009), accessed July 21, 2010
The Energy Information Administration, Texas 2003, Distribution of Wells by Production Rate Bracket, accessed July 21, 2010
The Department of Energy, Marginal & Stripper Well Revitalization, accessed July 21, 2010
National Wind, Minnesota Wind Facts, accessed July 21, 2010
The Energy Information Administration, Average Retail Price of Electricity to Ultimate Customers by End-Use Sector, by State, accessed July 22, 2010
Interview, Jeremy Drucker, spokesman, Matt Entenza, July 21, 2010
Interview, William Holmes, attorney, Stoel Rives, July 21, 2010
Interview, Ramona Nye, spokeswoman, Texas Railroad Commission, July 22, 2010
Interview, Joel Morrison, Director, Stripper Well Consortium, July 22, 2010
PoliGraph is a regular series of reports that checks the veracity of politicians' claims. It is a collaboration between Minnesota Public Radio News and the Humphrey Institute at the University of Minnesota.