Germans Get Paid to Use Wind Power

Germany has been investing in lots of wind power, and it's starting to pay off (in a sense). In some parts of the country, there's more power being generated than locals need, and the grid infrastructure to distribute it more widely doesn't exist. This has some strange effects. From Bloomberg:
On windy nights in northern Germany, consumers are paid to keep the lights on.

Twice this year, the nation’s 21,000 wind turbines pumped out so much power that utilities reduced customer bills for using the surplus electricity. Since the first rebate came with little fanfare at 5 a.m. one October day in 2008, payments have risen as high as 500.02 euros ($665) a megawatt-hour, about as much as a small factory or 1,000 homes use in 60 minutes.

The wind-energy boom in Europe and parts of Texas has begun to reduce bills for consumers.

In the places that are leading the switch to wind power, distributing and storing that clean energy is becoming a much bigger problem than generating it. It's clear we're going to have to build that smart grid ASAP. But until then, it's kind of nice that the places that have invested in wind power are reaping the benefits locally. That makes alternative energy investments look all the more attractive elsewhere else.

Image: on Flickr - Photo Sharing!, a Creative Commons Attribution (2.0) image from gavlart's photostream