Wind Power: An Alternative Energy Source

In 1970, the Clean Air Act was passed into law to protect the health and welfare of the public from air pollution. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) was tasked with establishing national air quality standards. Provisions were made to cover air pollutants that threaten public health or are toxic to the environment.
States were tasked with creating enforceable plans that achieve and maintain the national air quality standards. In addition, states must control emissions that could drift and possibly harm the air quality of states downwind.

How’s the air quality in your city? Click here to find out.

“Generating electricity from renewable energy rather than fossil fuels offers significant public health benefits. The air and water pollution emitted by coal plants is linked to breathing problems, neurological damage, heart attacks, and cancer. Replacing fossil fuels with renewable energy has been found to reduce premature mortality and lost workdays, and it reduces overall healthcare cost.” The true cost of fossil fuel generated electricity is not transparent as the associated health care cost are hidden. Also, coal burning “produces over 70% of the power sector’s greenhouse gas emissions” which is a major contributor to global climate change.

As of 2012, there were 557 coal-fired power plants generating 310 gigawatts of electricity in the U.S.

As described in the previous post on hydraulic fracturing (the releasing of natural gas or oil from shale rock formations), residents who live near fracking operations are experiencing numerous health problems such as: abdominal pain, nausea, headaches, breathing difficulties, nose-bleeds, skin rashes, eye and throat irritations. There are over sixteen thousand individuals and families that have been harmed by fracking operations.

Arthur Berman, geologist and consultant with 34 years of experience in petroleum exploration and production, views shale drilling for oil as a “desperate measure” with a short-lived payout. Click here to listen to his explanation.

Once you have heard Arthur Berman’s interview, then ask yourself: Why as a nation are we harming our people, contaminating our aquifers (especially in drought stricken areas), and ruining our environments? And who will pay for this human suffering or to restore a toxic environment? Most of these fracking companies are not making a profit, are deep in debt, and are about to go out of business.

Environmental Benefits of Wind Power

“Harnessing power from the wind is one of the cleanest and most sustainable ways to generate electricity as it produces no toxic pollution or global warming emissions. Wind is also abundant, inexhaustible, and affordable, which makes it a viable and large-scale alternative to fossil fuels.”

There are 24 wind farms in Pennsylvania supplying enough electricity to power 330,000 homes. This clean energy source reduces CO2 emissions by over 3 million metric tons or the equivalent of burning approximately sixteen thousand railcars full of coal. One of PA’s 24 wind farms, the Green Mountain Wind Energy Center, is the oldest Pennsylvania wind farm with operations beginning in 2000. The farm is located in Somerset County, and can be seen along the hills from milepost 115 on the Pennsylvania Turnpike. The wind farm sits on top of a former coal mine, it has eight wind turbines that produce 10.4 megawatts (MW) of electricity which is enough power for 3,300 homes.

“Most electric power plants require water to operate, and water use in drought-stricken areas like the western United States is a significant issue. Producing electricity from the wind does not require water. Achieving a 20% wind energy by 2030 scenario would reduce cumulative water use in the electric sector by 8%, or 4 trillion gallons.”

Environmental Concerns

“A wind turbine a quarter of a mile away is no noisier than a kitchen refrigerator.” Opinion surveys have shown a 4 to 1 margin in favor of wind energy. “A recent study showed that wind farm construction has no significant negative effect on property values, and sometimes even causes them to increase.”

“The impact of wind turbines on wildlife, most notably on birds and bats, has been widely document and studied. A recent National Wind Coordinating Committee (NWCC) review of peer-reviewed research found evidence of bird and bat deaths from collisions with wind turbines and due to changes in air pressure caused by the spinning turbines, as well as from habitat disruption. The NWCC concluded that these impacts are relatively low and do not pose a threat to species populations.” “With modern turbines, mounted on tubular towers and whose blades spin only about 15 times per minute, bird collisions are now rare. The Audubon Society and Sierra Club both support wind energy development, because the environmental advantages far outweigh the disadvantages.”

Economic Benefits

“Free Fuel: Unlike other forms of electrical generation where fuel is shipped to a processing plant, wind energy generates electricity at the source of fuel, which is free. Wind is a native fuel that does not need to be mined or transported, taking two expensive costs out of long-term energy expenses.” Technology advances have brought down the cost of wind energy ranging from 5 to 6 cents per kilowatt hour, which is competitive with new gas-fired power plants.

“Renewable energy is a technology. In the technology sector, costs always go down. Fossil fuels are extracted. In extractive industries, costs (almost) always go up. Renewable and fossil fuel cost per unit of energy are now roughly comparable in many places…but heading in opposite directions. New, superior technologies don’t split markets with old, inferior technologies.”

“Wind power could help stabilize energy prices and remove much of the United States’ dependence on foreign oil.” So instead of borrowing money to spend on extraction operations, let’s borrow trillions of dollars to invest and build out renewable energy infrastructures such as wind power. We can use these technologies for job creation and to rebuild our nation’s failing economy.

Click here to see a list of PA wind energy suppliers in your area!

My current energy provider, FirstEnergy, is one of the largest providers of renewable energy in the region with 500 megawatts of wind power under contract.

Click here to view post references.

Click here to learn about a growing movement away from fossil fuels by

D.C. to purchase wind energy from Pennsylvania. Click here to learn more.

Click here to learn how IBM’s cognitive computing systems will help improve China’s air quality.

“Wind Vision: A New Era for Wind Power in the United States” Click here.

Click here to learn “How to Make Wind Power More Reliable”

Vestas, a Colorado-based wind energy production facilities, has many job openings to fill. Click here for details.

Achieve your own energy independence with Skystream. Click here to watch a short video.

For my next post, we will look at solar power as an alternative energy source.

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