Environmentalist group touts benefits of wind energy

Wind power in Pennsylvania is saving water and avoiding pollution that contributes to climate change and other problems, according to a report issued Wednesday by a group lobbying for government policies that promote the use of wind to produce electricity.

The PennEnvironment report said the state’s existing two dozen wind farms, which are concentrated in southwest and northeast Pennsylvania, saved nearly 600 million gallons of water in 2012 that otherwise would have been needed to cool power plants.

Wind energy last year also displaced emissions of about 1.3 million metric tons of carbon dioxide, 1,255 metric tons of smog-causing nitrogen oxides and 1,551 tons of sulfur dioxide that causes acid rain and soot, the report said.

Wind energy produced more than 2.2 million megawatt-hours of electricity last year in Pennsylvania, which ranks 17th nationally in terms of wind power production.

PennEnvironment says production could be nearly doubled in the next five years if the state increases the amount of renewable energy utilities are required to sell and the federal government extends tax credits for renewable energy producers that are set to expire at the end of this year.

“Wind energy has given us a lot to be thankful for this Thanksgiving,” said Elowyn Corby of PennEnvironment . “Now, our elected officials need to make sure we fully develop and take advantage of the major environmental benefits wind power brings to the state.”