Connecticut Reaps Public Health Benefits from Wind Energy

Media Releases

Hartford – Environment Connecticut released a new Environment Connecticut Research & Policy Center report today that shows that New England’s current power generation from wind energy avoids 720 tons of smog-causing and 1,370 tons of soot pollution annually, a significant benefit for public health in Connecticut, a state heavily affected by air pollution.

The Environment Connecticut Research & Policy Center report, Wind Power for a Cleaner America: Reducing Global Warming Pollution, Cutting Air Pollution, and Saving Water draws on data from the Energy Information Administration and the U.S.
Department of Energy to document wind energy’s environmental and health benefits to date, as well as future benefits if wind power continues to grow. Environment Connecticut is urging 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 Connecticut’s citizens,” said Ari Rubenstein of Environment Connecticut. “We can continue on this path of cutting dangerous pollution 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.”

The report outlined how today’s wind energy in New England is delivering results for the environment and for public health. The decrease in smog and soot pollution is particularly critical in Connecticut, where three metropolitan regions (Bridgeport, Stamford-Norwalk, and Danbury) made the top 20 lists for smoggiest U.S. cities of their size in 2010.

“Our dirty energy sources endanger the health and welfare of countless millions of people,” said Dr. Jerry Silbert, M.D., of The Watershed Partnership. “I hope that Connecticut will lead the way with wind power and other sources of renewable energy to move us to a better and saner path so future generations can live in a just, healthy, and sustainable future.”

The region’s development of wind energy results largely from Connecticut’s state Renewable Portfolio Standard, which requires utilities to derive 20% of their power from renewable sources by 2020, similar measures in other New England states, 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 Connecticut’s citizens on the table.

In addition to the public health benefits, the report found that if wind development continues at a pace comparable to that of recent years through 2016, the New England region states alone would reduce global warming pollution by as much as taking an additional 113,000 cars off the road, and would save enough water to meet the needs of an additional 9,900 people.

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 grapples with air pollution, we must invest wisely in a future with cleaner air, fewer smog days, and smart use of our resources,” said Rubenstein of Environment Connecticut. “Time is running out. We thank Senators Blumenthal and Lieberman for supporting clean, renewable wind power and urge them to do everything they can to extend the renewable energy production tax credit and offshore wind investment tax credit before the end of the year. Our clean air, water, and children’s futures depend on it.”