New Report: Wind Energy Yields Major Environmental Benefits for New York; Reducing Pollution and Saving Water

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Heather Leibowitz

Environment New York Research & Policy Center

Wind energy is on the rise in New York and is providing huge environmental benefits for the state, according to a new report released today by Environment New York. Wind energy is already allowing New York to avoid more than 1,834,576 metric tons of climate-altering carbon pollution, which is the equivalent of taking 382,203 cars off the road. New York’s wind is also saving the state 819,668,250 gallons of water per year.

Thanks to its current and future benefits, wind power is a key component of President Obama’s Climate Action Plan to cut 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 Heather Leibowitz of Environment New York. “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 New York avoids 1,724 tons of smog-causing nitrogen oxides which contributes to asthma, and 2,130 tons of sulfur dioxide which is a major component of acid rain.

The report shows that wind energy is now providing 3,033,000 megawatt-hours (MWh) of electricity in New York, and New York could be on track to see an 86% increase in wind production in the next five years. If state and federal officials commit to continued progress, New York could reduce the carbon pollution equivalent of more than 288,931 passenger vehicles.

“The future of our energy industry is dependent on energy diversity. Energy alternatives such as wind energy, which is a renewable energy resource, need to be maximized in order to reach our energy goals,” said Assemblymember John T. McDonald III.

“This report makes is clear that investing in wind energy is one of the best ways we can protect our communities from the threat of climate disruption. If Governor Cuomo is going to protect our families from more climate-fueled extreme weather events, he must make a strong commitment to ramp up wind power across the state and off our shores. Investing in wind will lead the transition away from outdated fossil fuels while creating jobs, attracting new industry, and growing our economy,” said Sierra Club Beyond Coal Campaign Representative David Alicea.

“Wind power is a promising source of clean energy, which also brings significant economic benefits to our community,” said Assemblymember Steck. “With smart investments in wind power technology, we can achieve cleaner air, better-paying jobs and local economic growth.”

New York’s recent progress on wind has been supported by the Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) and 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.

“I have long been an avid supporter of clean and renewable sources of energy, such as wind” said Assemblymember Patricia Fahy. “With help from Albany, we can reduce air pollution, curb global warming emissions, and create jobs by switching to locally generated clean energy.”

The primary 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 power has grown by leaps and bounds in recent years with the support of the state’s clean energy funds and the investment and production tax credits on the federal level. There remains tremendous potential for continued growth both on and offshore, but Congress must first act to extend the renewable tax credits beyond 2013,” said Conor Bambrick, Air and Energy Program Director for Environmental Advocates of New York.

“Wind energy is improving our quality of life in New York,” said Heather Leibowitz “We cannot let polluters and their allies stand in the way of additional benefits of wind. Governor Andrew Cuomo and our decision-makers in Albany need to expand state programs to grow New York’s wind industry, and our congressional delegation needs to do whatever it takes to extend federal wind incentives before the end of the year.”