Atlanta, GA – Recent news highlighting low water levels in Lake Lanier have brought home the growing severity of the current drought in Georgia. While Gov. Deal has spent millions of dollars on reservoirs in recent months a new Environment Georgia Research & Policy Center Report has found that increased wind production around the country has already had a huge impact on the amount of water needed to cool traditional fossil fuel and nuclear power plants---the 120 million megawatt-hours (MWh) of wind electricity produced in 2011 saved 26 billion gallons of water, more than enough to meet the annual domestic use needs of a city the size of Boston.
The Environment Georgia Research & Policy Center report, Wind Power for a Cleaner America: Reducing Global Warming Pollution, Cutting Air Pollution, and Saving Water, touts wind energy’s environmental benefits to date, as well as future benefits if wind power continues to grow. Environment Georgia urged Congress to extend critical federal incentives for wind power—the renewable energy production tax credit and the offshore wind investment tax credit—before they expire at the end of the year.
“States like Texas are on their way to meeting energy and water needs by building wind turbines,” said Jennette Gayer, Policy Advocate with Environment Georgia. “Georgia has several dozen power plants worth of wind power blowing off the coast, we could be meeting our energy needs and solving our water and air pollution problems at the same time.”
The report found that Texas, the number one wind energy producer in the country, generates a little over 30 million MWh/year, avoids over 17 million metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions and saves 6.54 billion gallons of water per year or enough water for 130,800 people.
Wind energy now powers nearly 13 million homes across the country and is on its way to being cost-competitive with traditional fossil fuels. But the two key federal wind power incentives—the production tax credit (PTC) and the offshore wind investment tax credit (ITC)—expire at the end of the year. Without these credits, many planned wind farms will not be built, leaving health and environmental benefits for STATERs on the table.
“We could see wind turbines off the cost of Georgia and continue on this path of cutting dangerous pollution and saving water if Congress acts now to extend critical wind incentives,” explained Gayer. “Our message to Congress is clear: Don’t throw wind power off the fiscal cliff. Our clean air, water, and children’s future are too important to blow it now.”