Wind Energy in Minnesota Prevents as Much Global Warming Pollution as Taking 757,000 Cars Off the Road Each Year
Duluth, MN – As the Duluth flood and its aftermath prompt more Minnesotans to call for action to tackle global warming and the rise in extreme weather, Environment Minnesota released a new Environment Minnesota Research & Policy Center report today that shows that Minnesota’s current power generation from wind energy displaces as much global warming pollution as taking 757,000 cars off the road per year. Minnesota has also suffered from severe drought this year, and the report shows that wind power saves enough water to meet the needs of 59,800 Minnesotans.
Environment Minnesota was joined by Mayor Don Ness and Joseph Woods, President of Ventera Wind, in releasing the Environment Minnesota Research & Policy Center report, Wind Power for a Cleaner America: Reducing Global Warming Pollution, Cutting Air Pollution, and Saving Water, and touting 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 replacing the dirty and dangerous energy sources of the past and creating a cleaner, healthier future for Minnesotans,” said Michelle Hesterberg of Environment Minnesota. “We can continue on this path of cutting dangerous pollution and saving water 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.”
Wind energy now provides nearly 13 percent of Minnesota’s electricity, making Minnesota the 4th wind producer in the country. If wind development continues at a pace comparable to that of recent years through 2016, Minnesota would reduce global warming pollution by as much as taking an additional 609,000 cars off the road, and would save enough water to meet the needs of an additional 48,100 Minnesotans.
“We need to increase these important environmental benefits of wind energy by increasing wind power in our state,” said Mayor Ness. "We've already made significant progress, and wind farms in western Minnesota now help meet Duluth’s electricity demands with clean, non-polluting energy. But there's more progress to be made in Minnesota, and we should continue to invest in wind energy to work towards a cleaner, healthier future for our state," added Mayor Ness.
The report also outlined that today’s wind energy in Minnesota is delivering results for public health, by avoiding 5,480 tons of smog-causing pollution and 3,480 tons of soot pollution.
Minnesota’s successful development of wind energy results largely from Minnesota’s Renewable Energy Standard – requiring utilities to provide 25% of their power from renewable energy by 2025, and the federal renewable energy Production Tax Credit.
These policies have helped companies like Ventera Wind, the fastest growing small wind turbine manufacturer in the United States. “Wind power is a win-win: it equals a cleaner environment, more jobs, and better national security while conventional power plants require large footprints, mining, pipelines, and a large amount of fresh water for cooling,” said Joseph Woods, President of Ventera Wind.
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, Woods said, “Continued support for the Production Tax Credit is essential – without the Production Tax Credit the wind industry will slow to a trickle.”
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 Minnesotans on the table.
“Minnesota’s renewable energy standard, combined with critical federal incentives for wind energy, have allowed our state to be a leader in clean energy,” said Mayor Ness. “It is critical for the continued growth of Minnesota’s wind industry that Congress extends federal tax credits for wind, including the Production Tax Credit and the Investment Tax Credit."
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 the flooding in Duluth, we must invest wisely in a future with cleaner air, fewer extreme weather events, and smart use of our water resources,” said Michelle Hesterberg of Environment Minnesota. “Time is running out. We urge Congressman Chip Cravaak 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.”