Phoenix – As Hurricane Sandy and its aftermath prompt more Arizonans to call for action to tackle global warming and the rise in extreme weather, Environment Arizona released a new Environment Arizona Research & Policy Center report today that shows that Arizona’s current power generation from wind energy displaces as much global warming pollution as taking 28,000 cars off the road per year. Arizona has also suffered from severe drought this year, and the Environment Arizona report shows that wind power saves enough water to meet the needs of 1,100 Arizonans.
The Environment Arizona Research & Policy Center report, Wind Power for a Cleaner America: Reducing Global Warming Pollution, Cutting Air Pollution, and Saving Water, touts wind energy’s environmental benefits to date, as well as future benefits if wind power continues to grow. The report demonstrates the need for Congress to extend critical federal incentives for wind power—the renewable energy production tax credit (PTC) and the offshore wind investment tax credit (ITC)—before they expire at the end of the year.
“Wind power is already replacing the dirty and dangerous energy sources of the past and creating a cleaner, healthier future for Arizonans,” said Katie Radosevic of Environment Arizona. “We can continue on this path of cutting dangerous pollution and saving water if Congress acts now to extend critical wind incentives. Our message to Congress is clear: Don’t throw wind power off the fiscal cliff. Our clean air, water, and children’s future are too important to blow it now.”
If wind development continues at a pace comparable to that of recent years through 2016, Arizona would reduce global warming pollution by as much as taking an additional 47,000 cars off the road, and would save enough water to meet the needs of an additional 1,800 Arizonans.
Ultimately, wind resources in Arizona could provide over 40% of the state’s current electricity needs.
“The research and development of alternative power generation must become a national priority. Arizona has an opportunity to become an innovator in solar and wind power technology,” said Mayor of Sedona, Rob Adams. “It is time for State leadership to step up and unite in this effort.”
“In this year of significant drought caused by fossil fuel instigated climatic disruption, the water savings and reduced environmental damage secured by increased wind power are critical to our environment and our economy,” added Gregory Erdmann, VP Sales and Marketing for Southwest Windpower, a Flagstaff-based manufacturer of renewable energy systems.
The report also outlined that today’s wind energy in Arizona is delivering results for public health, by avoiding 100 tons of smog-causing pollution and 50 tons of soot pollution.
Arizona’s successful development of wind energy results largely from Arizona’s Renewable Energy Standard — requiring utilities to provide 15% of their power from renewable energy by 2025, and the federal renewable energy Production Tax Credit.
Wind energy now powers nearly 13 million homes across the country and is on its way to being cost-competitive with traditional fossil fuels. But the two key federal wind power incentives—the production tax credit and the offshore wind investment tax credit —expire at the end of the year. Without these credits, many planned wind farms will not be built, leaving health and environmental benefits for Arizonans on the table.
Despite the benefits of wind energy and widespread public support for federal policies to promote renewable energy, fossil fuel interests and their allies in Congress are vigorously opposing the PTC and ITC.
“As our state is still plagued by severe drought and as the country heals from Hurricane Sandy, we must invest wisely in a future with cleaner air, fewer extreme weather events, and smart use of our water resources,” said Radosevic of Environment Arizona. “Time is running out. We urge Congressman Gosar to extend the renewable energy production tax credit and offshore wind investment tax credit before the end of the year. We expect Congresswoman-elect Kirkpatrick to support the same in the coming years. Our clean air, water, and children’s future depend on it.”