Environment California Research & Policy Center
Sacramento – Wind energy is on the rise and is providing huge environmental benefits for the state, according to a new report released today by Environment California Research & Policy Center. California’s wind energy is already avoiding more than 6 million metric tons of climate-altering carbon pollution – the equivalent of taking 1.3 million cars off the road, while saving 2.7 billion gallons of water per year – enough to meet the needs of 59,000 people.
Thanks to its current and future benefits, wind power is a key component of President Obama’s Climate Action Plan to reduce the carbon pollution fueling global warming 17 percent by 2020. The plan calls for an expansion of renewable energy, investment in energy efficiency, and the first-ever federal limits on carbon pollution from power plants.
“Wind energy has given us a lot to be thankful for this Thanksgiving,” said Nathan Weaver of Environment California. “Now our state and national leaders need to take action to make sure we don’t leave this cornucopia of environmental benefits on the table.”
The report, Wind Energy for a Cleaner America, also shows that today’s wind energy in California avoids 5,600 tons of smog-causing nitrogen oxides and 6,800 tons of sulfur dioxide, which cause acid rain and soot.
“Pollution-free wind energy is already providing cleaner and healthier air for California,” said Weaver. “Continuing to grow wind power in California will lead to less smog and deadly soot pollution because California will be able to shift away from burning polluting fossil fuels, like coal.”
The report shows that wind energy is now providing 9.9 million megawatt-hours (MWh) of electricity in California, and California could be on track to see an 8 percent increase in wind production in the next five years. If state and federal officials commit to continued progress, California could reduce the carbon pollution equivalent of more than 1.2 million passenger vehicles, and save enough water to meet the annual water needs of nearly 64,000 people.
“California remains a national leader in the wind energy industry, in large part due to state policies including the Renewable Portfolio Standard,” said Senator Lois Wolk, whose district is home to numerous wind power plants. “If the state is to meet its renewable energy goals, as well as its goals for greenhouse gas reduction, it is vital that California continue to support this important and growing sector of our economy, which improves air quality, and promotes investment and job creation in my district and throughout the state.”
California’s recent progress on wind is the direct result of federal incentives for wind power. Despite the clear benefits of wind and widespread bipartisan support for federal policies to promote renewable energy, fossil fuel interests and their political allies have vigorously opposed these initiatives.
The main federal incentives for wind – the investment tax credit (ITC) and the production tax credit (PTC) – are currently set to expire at the end of 2013.
“Wind energy is improving our quality of life in California,” said Weaver. “We cannot let polluters and their allies stand in the way of additional benefits of wind.
Environment California is a statewide, citizen-funded environmental advocacy organization working for clean air, clean water, and open spaces.