New Report: Wind Power for a Cleaner America
Environment New Jersey
Trenton – As Hurricane Sandy and its aftermath prompt more New Jerseyans to call for action to tackle global warming and the rise in extreme weather, Environment New Jersey released a new report today that shows that New Jersey’s current power generation from wind energy displaces as much global warming pollution as taking 2000 cars off the road per year.
A 2010 law passed by the Legislature and signed by Governor Christie will bring far more wind power to New Jersey over the next decade, significantly reducing global warming pollution and cutting the state’s reliance on fossil fuels.
Environment New Jersey was joined by Senate President Stephen Sweeney and Senator Linda Greenstein, Vice Chair of the Senate Environment Committee, in releasing the report Wind Power for a Cleaner America: Reducing Global Warming Pollution, Cutting Air Pollution, and Saving Water. The report touts wind energy’s environmental benefits to date, as well as future benefits if wind power continues to grow.
The speakers urged 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 reducing our dirty and dangerous reliance upon fossil fuels and helping create a cleaner, healthier future for all New Jerseyans,” said Matt Elliott of Environment New Jersey. “We can continue moving in the right direction and more significantly cut 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. If these incentives are not extended, the wind industry will suffer in New Jersey and across the country. For the sake of our environment and economy, Congress must do the right thing and continue building momentum and support for a robust wind industry.”
If New Jersey meets the goals that were set out in the 2010 Offshore Wind Economic Development Act and builds 1100 MW of new wind energy by 2020, global warming pollution will drop by as much as taking an additional 376,000 cars off the road.
“This report underscores that wind energy is a win-win for New Jersey, but also makes clear that to get that win, we have to act,” said Senate President Sweeney (D-Gloucester/Cumberland/Salem). “After Sandy, everyone now realizes the need for upgrading our energy infrastructure, from energy creation to distribution. If New Jersey does not plant a flag for our wind energy industry, it will be a tremendous setback for making our state a manufacturing hub. And it will be a setback for creating good jobs and a setback for modernizing an antiquated energy infrastructure.”
In addition to reducing harmful global warming pollution, the report notes that bringing more offshore wind energy to New Jersey will significantly reduce harmful air pollution. New Jersey already suffers some of the worst air pollution in the nation, causing many New Jerseyans to suffer from respiratory diseases such as asthma.
The report also outlined that today’s wind energy in New Jersey is delivering results for public health, by avoiding 10 tons of both smog and soot pollution.
Senator Linda Greenstein, Vice Chair of the Senate Environment Committee, underscored the point saying, “We all know that New Jersey has some of the worst air pollution in the nation. And in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, we’ve also seen that we stand to suffer more than most if we don’t tackle climate change head-on. Wind power will help New Jersey clear the air, reduce our contribution to global warming, and create good-paying local jobs that will benefit the economy. I urge our leaders in Congress to support wind by extending federal tax credits for wind facilities.”
New Jersey’s successful development of wind energy results largely from the Renewable Portfolio Standard– requiring utilities to provide 22.5% of their power from renewable energy by 2020 and the federal renewable energy Production Tax Credit (PTC).
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 New Jerseyans on the table.
“Wind energy is a win for the economy, a win for the environment, and a win for New Jersey,” stated Senator Frank R. Lautenberg, a member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. “We will continue fighting in Congress to extend the wind production tax credit and support the kind of energy development that is needed to create jobs, clean up the air our children breathe, and move America to a clean energy future.”
Congressman Rush Holt also weighed in on the urgency of addressing global warming and supporting wind energy, saying, “Congress has failed to seriously address the dangers of climate change, and now Americans must start adjusting to the new normal of more frequent extreme weather events. Part of that adjustment must include reducing greenhouse gas emissions. I am pleased to see today’s report from Environment New Jersey, which gives us a much-needed roadmap to developing wind energy.”
New Jersey’s first wind farm stands at the Atlantic County Utilities Authority just outside Atlantic City. Rick Dovey, president of the Atlantic County Utilities Authority, said, “The wind farm at the Atlantic County Utilities Authority has been an environmental and economic success. Incentives available at the time the project was developed helped bring this renewable energy project to fruition. A private partner built and financed the project in part with grants and tax incentives that would not be available to a public entity like ACUA. I support the renewal of the production tax and investment tax credits generated so that more wind projects can get built, both onshore and offshore.”
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 healing 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 Matt Elliott of Environment New Jersey. “Time is running out. We thank Senators Lautenberg and Menendez 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 future depend on it.”