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Wind’s clean air benefits: something to love

Wind created $7.3 billion in public health benefits in 2015.
Wind’s clean air benefits: something to love
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Our product is on sale for two-thirds off, and America is just waking up to that fact.

I say this because just in the past six years, our industry has succeeded in cutting the cost of wind-generated electricity in America by 66 percent. Today, incoming AWEA Chairman Chris Brown, President of Vestas Americas, told us we can go even further and be an even more formidable competitor.

That will help keep demand for wind energy strong into the 2020s and beyond. Sustainability is the new reality throughout the economy. It’s not just for early adopters anymore.

Amid all this good news for consumers, though, we can’t ignore the emotional appeal that wind turbines hold for Americans.

Our turbines don’t just mean a lower electric bill, they symbolize hope for the future. Hope that we really can innovate our way out of our environmental challenges. Hope it will turn out all right in the end.

One way we’re starting to talk about this is to link the immense economic savings that wind power represents with the public health benefits of clean air. We’ve teamed up with the American Lung Association and their Healthy Air Campaign to get this story told.

The Lung Association has adopted a goal of transitioning to a clean energy future “to protect all people from the harm of air pollution.” It now advocates “reforms to transmission and distribution policies that will encourage the expansion and delivery of clean, renewable, non-combustion energy resources” such as wind energy.

This morning business author Steve Farber put a quote from investment sage Warren Buffett on the big screen here at WINDPOWER.

Buffett says he only invests in people who love the business they’re in. His MidAmerican Energy just announced the biggest investment ever in the state of Iowa – 2,000 megawatts of clean, wind-powered electricity. Does anyone see a connection here?

U.S. wind farms don’t just reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 132 million metric tons a year. They also displace 76,000 metric tons of sulfur dioxide and 106,000 metric tons of nitrogen oxides, the leading elements of toxic smog. That much avoids $7.3 billion a year in health care costs, according to the Harvard School of Public Health.

Through 2050, the Department of Energy estimates wind will avoid $400 billion in climate change damages and also save $108 billion in public health costs – and prevent 22,000 premature deaths.

In other words, we’re helping keep kids out of emergency rooms from asthma attacks, and all the other ways that pollution takes a toll on our health and that of our families.

With wind power, states don’t face a trade-off between strong economic growth and healthy clean air.

Now that’s something to love.

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Tom Kiernan began as CEO of the American Wind Energy Association in May, 2013. Prior to joining AWEA, Tom was President of the National Parks Conservation Association for 15 years growing it from 8 to 22 offices and overseeing a successful $125 million capital campaign. Previous positions include Deputy Assistant Administrator of EPA’s Office of Air and Radiation where he assisted in leading the implementation of the 1990 Clean Air Act Amendments, President of the Audubon Society of New Hampshire, and a senior consultant with Arthur Andersen & Co. Tom is a native of Arlington, Va., has an undergraduate degree from Dartmouth College in Environmental Computer Modeling, and an MBA from Stanford’s Graduate School of Business.

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Into the Wind provides the latest news and expert opinion from the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA).

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