Rhode Island wind energy getting off the ground

Media Contacts
Channing Jones

State will see environmental and public health benefits

Environment Rhode Island Research & Policy Center

Providence – As Hurricane Sandy and its aftermath prompt more Rhode Islanders to call for action to tackle global warming and the rise in extreme weather, Environment Rhode Island Research & Policy Center released a new report today that shows that power generation from wind energy projects currently under construction will displace as much global warming pollution as taking 1000 cars off the road per year.

Environment Rhode Island’s Channing Jones was joined at India Point Park by Christopher Blazejewski, State Rep. from District 2, and Jamie Samons, Public Affairs Manager with the Narragansett Bay Commission. The new report, Wind Power for a Cleaner America: Reducing Global Warming Pollution, Cutting Air Pollution, and Saving Water, details wind energy’s environmental benefits to date, as well as future benefits if wind power continues to grow.

Jones applauded the Obama administration for announcing competitive lease sales for wind energy development in areas off the coasts of Rhode Island, Massachusetts, and Virginia, and 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 replacing the dirty and dangerous energy sources of the past and creating a cleaner, healthier future for Rhode Island,” said Jones. “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 futures are too important to blow it now.”

“We need to take advantage of the important environmental and economic benefits of wind energy,” said State Representative Chris Blazejewski. Rep. Blazejewski represents R.I. House District 2 and has served on the House Environment & Natural Resources Committee. “With the increasing risks of rising sea levels, extreme weather patterns, and volatile foreign energy sources, Rhode Island needs to look to wind power as one way to lessen carbon emissions, strengthen our energy independence, and grow the local green economy in the 21st century.”

The report was released one day after the commissioning of the wind turbines at the Narragansett Bay Commission’s Field’s Point wastewater treatment facility. “Rhode Island can be an environmental leader in the effort to develop more wind energy and reap the benefits of cleaner, greener power,” said Jamie Samons, Public Affairs Manager with the Narragansett Bay Commission.

In Rhode Island, wind energy represents an important resource to help the state meet its goal of producing 16 percent of its electricity from renewable energy sources by 2019, a target made possible in part by key federal tax credits––the production tax credit (PTC) and the offshore wind investment tax credit (ITC). 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 these two federal wind power incentives expire at the end of the year. Without these credits, many planned wind farms will not be built.

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.

“The negative impact on Rhode Island caused by the burning of fossil fuels on this and future generations is a clear and present danger,” said Bob Chew, Chief Energy Consultant with R.W. Chew, LLC. “The use of properly sited land-based and offshore wind turbines is an important weapon in the battle against climate change, along with other clean energy technologies coupled with energy efficiency measures and conservation.”

“Extreme weather events like Hurricane Sandy are a wakeup call,” said Jones. “We must invest wisely in a future with cleaner air and fewer extreme weather events. Rhode Island can make history by being the first state to produce pollution-free energy from offshore wind development. Our leaders must act now, first by demanding that Congress extend the wind tax credits before they expire at the end of the year, and by moving forward with proposed wind projects in Rhode Island.”