Wind energy: Good for the environment and consumers

A recent letter (“Wind and solar aren’t viable energy alternatives — and will never be,” Aug. 5) misstates the facts in an attempt to attack wind energy.

Wind power is already a mainstream energy source in the U.S., accounting for 35 percent of all newly added electric generating capacity over the last five years. Nine states now rely on wind for over 10 percent of their electricity, with Iowa and South Dakota generating 20 percent of their power from wind.

The letter cites incorrect statistics on the government incentives awarded to wind energy. According to the Nuclear Energy Institute, the government incentives for fossil and nuclear energy over the last 60 years are many times greater than the total incentives awarded to all renewable energy sources combined.

Wind energy has a proven track record of greatly reducing pollution in Europe. As Germany ramped up its wind energy production, coal use fell by more than 12 percent between 2004 and 2010, a reduction of 20 million tons of coal per year. Those gains would have been even larger had Germany not decreased its use of nuclear energy by 16 percent over that time period.

Finally, thanks to our country’s world-class wind energy resources, wind energy helps lower consumers’ electric bills. Synapse Energy Economic recently found that doubling the use of wind energy beyond existing standards in the Great Lakes and Mid-Atlantic states, including Maryland, would save the region’s consumers $6.9 billion per year. A number of other studies have found this result because wind energy directly offsets electricity from the most expensive and least efficient power plants and also protects consumers from volatility in the price of fossil fuels.

Michael Goggin, Washington

The writer is senior electric industry analyst at the American Wind Energy Association.