Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, Oct. 14, 2015 — By diversifying the Keystone State’s electricity mix with more of its abundant, low-cost wind energy resources, Pennsylvania can cut carbon pollution and cut costs for consumers according to new data released at the American Wind Energy Association’s (AWEA) Pennsylvania Wind Energy Forum at the Penn State University-Harrisburg campus today.
The day-long event brought together John Hanger, Secretary of Planning for Pennsylvania, Larry Schweiger, President and CEO of renewable energy advocate PennFuture, and over 80 attendees made up of private investors, state officials, academics and more, in order to find ways to help kick start the state’s wind energy industry.
“Pennsylvania is well-positioned to benefit from expanding wind energy,” said Andrew Gohn, Eastern Region Director for AWEA. “Thanks to wind power’s ability to act as a hedge against volatile and increasing fuel prices, Pennsylvania homeowners and businesses can save over $4.7 billion dollars.”
The new data come from calculations made by AWEA and the Wind Energy Foundation (WEF) using the U.S. Department of Energy’s new 2015 report Wind Vision: A new era for wind power in the United States, which shows wind energy can supply 10 percent of the U.S. electricity by 2020, 20 percent by 2030 and 35 percent by 2050, making wind one of the leading sources of electricity in the country. The consumer savings in Pennsylvania are made possible by wind being free of fuel price increases, and would result from the U.S. hitting the 2050 target.
While Pennsylvania currently generates nearly two percent of its in-state electricity from wind energy, the state has the technical wind resource potential to meet 88 percent of the its current electricity demand. According to Wind Vision, wind power in Pennsylvania can more than quadruple from supplying enough electricity for 329,000 homes today to 1.6 million homes by 2030.
The U.S. Department of Energy’s Wind Vision report adds to a growing body of evidence that shows wind can help save consumers money across the Mid-Atlantic Region.
During the 2014 Polar Vortex event, wind energy saved consumers across the Mid-Atlantic and Great Lakes power grid $1 billion over just two days. A recent Synapse Energy Economics report found doubling the use of wind energy in the PJM Interconnection beyond current requirements, an area that spans 12 states in the Mid-Atlantic Region, including Pennsylvania, would save consumers close to $7 billion a year.
Other economic benefits for Pennsylvania resulting from greater wind energy include nearly $45 million in added annual property tax revenue according to Wind Vision and almost $19 million in annual wind farm lease payments to Pennsylvania family farmers and other rural landowners by 2030. Growing wind power in the state could also add to the number of well-paying jobs at 29 wind manufacturing factories building supplies for new wind farms in the state and across the region.
Elected Pennsylvania officials and renewable energy advocates speaking at the forum also addressed the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Clean Power Plan, the nation’s first-ever rule to cut carbon emissions from existing power plants. With the release of the final rule in August, state officials in Pennsylvania, and across the country, must now plan how to affordably and reliably cut carbon pollution in order to comply with the plan.
“Wind is essential to addressing climate change and keeping electricity affordable,” said Hanger. “Without wind we’re not going to be able to address climate and we’re not going to be able to keep electricity prices affordable. The Clean Power Plan is an important opportunity for Pennsylvania. This is a real chance for the state to show the country how the Clean Power Plan can be a win-win.”
Since adding low-cost wind power displaces the most expensive, least efficient power sources on the utility grid, wind energy reduced carbon pollution by 126 million metric tons in 2014 – equal to 5 percent of power sector carbon emissions (or 26 million cars’ worth). The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) released a report earlier this year showing wind energy consistently emerging as the most cost-effective way to reduce emissions.
EIA’s findings align well with Wind Vision, which found electricity prices were 20 percent less sensitive to fluctuations in natural gas prices in scenarios with large amounts of wind energy; reductions in gas prices can also result in $280 billion in cumulative gas consumer savings for the U.S. by 2050.
“The wind energy industry is a major part of the solution,” said Larry Schweiger, President and CEO of PennFuture, keynote speaker for the forum. “As the commonwealth looks to find cost-effective, reliable ways to meet the Clean Power Plan, it should look to wind power as one of its leading solutions.”
While wind energy helps avoid 2.4 million metric tons of carbon pollution per year in Pennsylvania today, growing wind power in the state can help avoid 10.32 million metric tons by 2030 according to Wind Vision.
Stable, long-term policy is critical to obtain the economic and environmental benefits made possible with growing wind power in Pennsylvania.
“The renewable energy Production Tax Credit and the Investment Tax Credit have been key to spurring growth in renewables, which support manufacturing jobs in Pennsylvania and across the nation while also promoting a more widespread use of clean energy,” said U.S. Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA) in a video-taped set of remarks for the forum. “We must continue to work to provide better tax certainty to investors and producers so that they can feel confident in the kinds of long-term investments that will propel the U.S. energy sector for decades to come.”
Pennsylvania passed its Alternative Energy Portfolio Standard (AEPS) in 2004, requiring electricity suppliers to supply 18 percent of their sales from alternative energy sources by 2021. Congress has yet to extend the renewable energy Production Tax Credit and Investment Tax Credit, performance-based, federal tax policy that’s helped make U.S. wind farms the most productive in the world, supplying enough electricity for 18 million homes.
For a library of up-to-date library images of wind energy use this link http://www.awea.org/MediaCenter/content.aspx?ItemNumber=7244