Report: Wind energy reduces carbon pollution, saves water

Source: by Donnelle Eller< Des Moines Register • Posted: Thursday, November 21, 2013

Iowa’s growing wind industry is reducing carbon pollution, saving water and supporting jobs, according to environmental and industry leaders.

By replacing the use of fossil fuels to generate energy, Iowa’s wind energy generation avoids “more than 8.4 million metric tons of climate-altering carbon pollution – the equivalent of taking 1.7 million cars off the road,” according to a report released by Environment Iowa.

Additionally, wind energy saves “nearly 3.8 billion gallons of water per year – enough to meet the needs of over 158,000 people,” the nonprofit environmental group said.

The group is calling for the continuation of production tax credits to help expand wind energy development. The credits are set to expire by year’s end.

Uncertainty about the credits creates uncertainty about jobs in Iowa, said Harold Prior, executive director of the Iowa Wind Association. He pointed to layoffs at Iowa plants that make turbine blades and towers a year ago, when the credit was last extended.

The report also shows that today’s wind energy in Iowa avoids 7,928 tons of “smog-causing nitrogen oxides and 9,793 tons of sulfur dioxide, which cause acid rain and soot.”

The group says wind energy is now providing 13.9 million megawatt-hours of electricity in Iowa, equal to 24.5 percent of the state’s electricity. Iowa could about double its wind production in the next five years so that wind could generate as much as 50 percent of all electricity in the state by 2018, it said

Projects include a plan from MidAmerican Energy to invest $1.9 billion to add 1,050 megawatts of additional wind generation in Iowa by the end of 2015.