Erie, PA – Carbon pollution equal to that produced by as many as 309,464 cars could be eliminated by 2020 with a moderate growth in wind power in the state, a new report from PennEnvironment Research & Policy Center said today. Speeding development of offshore wind, for which northwest Pennsylvania has vast potential, could cut even more pollution.
Using data from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, the report shows that as much as 3,048 MW of wind power could be built in the state in the next five years with the right policies in place.
“Wind power here in Pennsylvania can grow steadily, reducing pollution and helping to solve the climate crisis,” said Stephen Riccardi, Western PA Field Associate with PennEnvironment. “But we need government policies to provide steady support for this clean energy resource to build our momentum in the fight against global warming.”
The report, Turning to the Wind, comes as state officials determine how to comply with the Clean Power Plan, the centerpiece of President Obama’s Climate Action that sets state-by-state limits on carbon pollution from power plants and encourages clean energy development. Pennsylvania’s Department of Environmental Protection announced earlier this week that after a statewide listening session tour, it had begun drafting its state implementation plan.
The analysis is also timed with what’s become an annual tradition in Congress: waiting until the last minute to renew critical tax incentives for clean energy. The credits, which have helped spur wind power’s growth over the last two decades, expired at the end of last year, and any measure to reinstate them must be adopted before Congress adjourns for the year on December 18
“The development and promotion of renewable energy is critical to our economic progress in Erie County,” said Erie County Executive Kathy Dahlkemper. “Leadership in innovation, manufacturing, and deployment of these technologies will spur job growth and increase our access to clean, renewable energy.”
The report shows wind energy now supplies enough energy to power 326,008 homes, producing enough energy to reduce carbon pollution from 654,414 cars since 2001. Wind power produced across the U.S. since 2001 has displaced more than 764 million metric tons of carbon dioxide – more than a year’s worth of carbon emissions from the entire country of Canada.
As world leaders meet in Paris to hammer out an international agreement to slash climate-changing emissions, environmental advocates said wind power should play a critical role.
“To avoid the worst impacts of global warming, we need to transition to 100 percent clean, renewable energy,” said Riccardi, “and that must include doing everything we can to develop abundant, pollution-free wind power.”