Portland, ME— With essential federal tax credits for wind energy close to expiring, Environment Maine released a new report today that shows that Maine’s current power generation from wind energy avoids 403,000 metric tons of carbon pollution annually, which is the equivalent of eliminating the carbon pollution from 79,000 of today’s vehicles. The report also finds that wind energy reduces smog and soot pollution and saves the state immense amounts of water.
“Wind power is reducing the dangerous pollution that harms our health and is fueling global warming,” said Nora Graubard, Field Associate with Environment Maine. “And the benefits we’re already seeing from wind power are just the tip of the iceberg because Maine has vast untapped wind resources.”
Wind Power for a Cleaner America: Reducing Global Warming Pollution, Cutting Air Pollution, and Saving Water analyzes data from the U.S. Department of Energy and the wind industry to quantify the environmental benefits from current wind generation in Maine as well as the additional benefits in 2016 if wind development continues at a pace comparable to that of recent years. The key findings for Maine include the following:
- Existing wind generation in Maine annually avoids 403,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide, 670 tons of smog-forming nitrogen oxides, and 1,110 tons of soot-forming sulfur dioxide as well as saving 155 million gallons of water annually—enough to provide water for 7,900 people.
- If the recent pace of wind development continues, in 2016 the new wind generation in Maine would annually avoid an additional 303,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide (equivalent to eliminating the pollution from 59,000 of today’s vehicles), 500 tons of nitrogen oxides, and 840 tons of sulfur dioxide, and it would save an additional 117 million gallons of water each year.
At the news conference, Paul Williamson of the Maine Wind Industry Initiative also pointed to the economic benefits of wind energy for Maine.
“Wind energy development has greatly benefitted the Maine economy with local investments exceeding $1 billion and the creation of local jobs. Maine’s experience and expertise in wind is now in demand nationally, meaning that our local economy is tied to the national success of this industry. Our recent survey of 47 Maine companies found that $279 million of their revenues was derived from wind-related activities. Of that, 47% of the revenues were generated from Maine projects, while 45% came from out of state and 8% were derived internationally,” said Williamson.
Wind energy now powers nearly 13 million homes across the country—about 100,000 in Maine. Although wind power provides competitive, stable energy prices, it is more costly up front to finance – and at a disadvantage to fossil fuels that have been heavily subsidized for decades. But the two key federal wind power incentives that help address these barriers—the production tax credit and the offshore wind investment tax credit—expire at the end of the year. Without these credits, many planned wind energy projects will not be built, leaving health and environmental benefits for Mainers on the table.
At the event, the groups also released two new letters, spearheaded by the Natural Resources Council of Maine and Sierra Club Maine, calling on Maine’s U.S. Senators to do everything in their power to ensure the wind tax credits are renewed before the end of the year. The signatories of the letter include Maine companies like S.W. Cole Engineering, D&D Machine, Reed & Reed, Sewall, Yale Cordage, Kenway, Maine Marine Composites and SGC Engineering.
“SGC has been actively working on engineering for wind projects for the last five years,” said Dick Hall, Senior Engineer with SGC Engineering in Westbrook and Orono. “Wind power work has provided continuous work for 5-10 people over that time. Elimination of the Production Tax Credit will seriously impact projects moving forward, and those SGC jobs which depend on this work. We strongly support an extension of the PTC.”
“Maine doesn’t have oil or natural gas like other places—instead we’re blessed with abundant clean renewable energy resources that are good for our economy, reduce pollution and keep our energy dollars at home,” said Dylan Voorhees, Clean Energy Director at the Natural Resources Council of Maine. “Maine cannot afford not to invest in clean, made-in-Maine renewable energy, any more than we can afford the costly impacts of climate change such as the devastation from heavy rains and flooding we saw this past year.”
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 continues to contend with less snow in the winter, warmer ocean temperatures, and heavy summer flooding, we must act now to reduce air pollution and slow global warming,” said Graubard of Environment Maine. “We urge Senators Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins 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.”
Environment Maine is a citizen-based environmental advocacy organization working to preserve Maine’s open spaces, protect clean air and water, and steer the state toward a clean energy future. www.environmentmaine.org