In a letter to the Glenwood Springs Post Independent newspaper, Arensman points out that Glenwood Springs’ municipal utility recently contracted with the Municipal Energy Agency of Nebraska (MEAN) to raise the share of the city’s energy coming from wind turbines from 12 percent to 28 percent. He writes: "Our energy consultant (JK Energy) estimates that more than doubling our wind energy purchases will cost the city about $162,000 annually. The resulting 1.5 percent rate increase will raise the average homeowner’s $55 electric bill by less than $1 a month."
In addition, Arensman says, Colorado’s state renewable electricity standard has not damaged its economy, but rather, led to a clean-energy jobs boom. Colorado today ranks fourth nationally in such jobs, with 1,600 companies employing 19,000 workers. Comments Arensman, "Rather than destroying the free market economy, we’re making a deliberate choice to significantly reduce our carbon emissions while supporting the growth of a thriving, increasingly viable clean-energy economy."
It’s worth remembering that under the Bush Administration, the U.S. Department of Energy’s 20% Wind Energy by 2030 Technical Report found that obtaining that amount of electricity from wind would cost the average household about 50 cents a month. At the same time, it would:
– Support half a million jobs.
– Provide $1.5 billion annually in property tax revenues by 2030.
– Provide payments of more than $600 million a year to farmers and ranchers by 2030.
– Save a cumulative total of 4 trillion gallons of water, or 80 percent of the amount in Utah’s Great Salt Lake (5 trillion).
In addition, the National Academy of Sciences found in a 2009 report that fossil fuels annually cost Americans $120 billion in health damages alone. But, even that number may be too low–a recent study from the Center for Health and the Global Environment at Harvard University puts coal’s hidden costs at $300 billion to $500 billion a year.
In the end, wind power looks more and more like a bargain for America’s economy.
By Tom Gray, www.awea.org/blog/