Over the past week, editorials from Texas to North Carolina and Colorado to Michigan have been spreading the good news about wind power.
No matter what state you’re in, it seems the common theme is wind power is a good deal for America. Wind saves consumers money, drives billions of dollars in private investment into state economies, and protects coastal communities by helping curb climate change.
To learn more about the benefits of wind, let’s take a trip around the country.
Michigan (lower costs)
Due to wind’s steadily falling costs, two utilities that supply 90 percent of the electric market in Michigan–DTE Energy and Consumers Energy–have decided to end surcharges they had for providing electricity from wind and other renewable energy sources.
In its editorial, the Midland (Mich.) Daily News applauded the fact that utilities were able to roll back these charges because “[G]reen energy is becoming more cost-efficient to produce. For example, the wind farm Consumers is planning in Tuscola County is expected to produce more power than initially projected, meaning the utility can purchase fewer turbines and still produce the same amount of power. As advances in technology occur, the efficiency of green energy will continue to improve.”
Iowa (economic investment)
The good news couldn’t be much better after MidAmerican Energy decided on what has become the largest economic development investment in Iowa’s history. The $1.9 billion project will add over 1,000 megawatts of wind power (enough to power the equivalent of 270,000 homes) across five counties.
The benefits will be spread across the state. According to the Quad City (Iowa) Times, “Work commences in September on 448 turbines in Grundy, Madison, Marshall, O’Brien and Webster counties, creating 460 construction jobs, then 48 permanent jobs. Those turbines will churn out $12 million a year in property tax from those backyards and generate $3.2 million annually for their property owners. Call them YIMBYs: Yes in my backyard.”
The Quad City Times correctly points out that MidAmerican has already invested $4 billion since 2004 in the state and overall, “Wind generates more than coal, more than natural gas and four times more energy in Iowa than nuclear power.”
With all these economic benefits, YIMBYs are going to be on the rise not just in Iowa but all across the country.
Colorado (jobs, wind growth)
With wind’s growth comes job growth in Colorado. The Greeley (Colo.) Tribune is “glad to see [wind power] growing” after the 2012 Department of Energy Wind Technologies Market Report found Colorado installed close to 500 megawatts of new wind power capacity (enough to power the equivalent of 135,000 homes) in 2012.
Wind power supports up to 5,000 jobs in Colorado currently and over 80,000 jobs across the country. But in Colorado and elsewhere, many of those jobs were put in jeopardy as Congress stalled in extending wind’s primary federal incentive – the production tax credit.
Colorado wind power potential is substantial in Colorado–wind power is capable of meeting more than 24 times the state’s current electricity needs. With wind currently providing over 11 percent of Colorado’s electricity, there’s a lot more room for growth.
The Tribune concluded. “Even with significant growth in oil and gas drilling, wind energy remains an important part of Weld County’s robust energy economy.”
The Amarillo (Tex.) Globe-News was in disbelief with the news that a newly planned, federally-owned wind power project wasn’t going to cost taxpayers a dime. Once completed, wind power will provide more than 60 percent of the annual electricity at a local assembly, disassembly, and maintenance site for American nuclear weapons.
Due to the type of contract the government signed to complete the project, turbine supplier Siemens will get a return on its investment from the energy savings related to the turbines used, estimated to average $2.8 million a year over 18 years.
The Amarillo Globe-News concluded “In other words, Pantex gets an infusion of green energy, which is good for the environment while allowing the facility to continue its vital nuclear role, while taxpayers will not have to pick up the tab for the construction of the government’s biggest wind farm…The federal government is saving energy while not wasting taxpayer money.”
The Raleigh (N.C.) News & Observer rounds out our good news about wind, urging North Carolina readers to take a second look at offshore wind power in order to fight back the very real impact of climate change on coastal communities.
The News & Observer cautions its readers, “If nothing is done, oceans are expected to rise by 2 feet globally by 2100. In North Carolina, sea rise would be even more pronounced because of the state’s relatively shallow coastal waters and the gentle slope of the Coastal Plain.”
However, wind power reduces carbon emissions, a major cause of climate change. Installed wind power offsets 99 million metric tons of carbon emissions–the equivalent of taking more than 17 million cars off the road. The News & Observer correctly points out wind is “part of a [climate change] solution” and that North Carolina’s offshore wind power potential is “perhaps the largest wind resource on the East Coast.”
Photo credit: First Wind – Rollins Wind Project, Maine