CityViews:
City and State Must do More to Embrace Wind Power

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Windmills near Eagle, New York.

Windtech

Windmills near Eagle, New York.

On Thursday, more than 100 New Yorkers joined community groups, environmental justice leaders, national environmental organizations, and local officials on the steps of City Hall to thank Mayor Bill de Blasio for his commitment to power 100 percent of city operations with renewable energy and urge him to ensure that offshore wind power plays a major role in achieving that goal.

None of us wants to leave the next generation a world where extreme weather like Hurricane Sandy is the new normal. To avoid the worst impacts of climate change, we must use more clean, renewable energy and use less dirty fuels like coal, oil and gas. Environment New York’s recent report Turning to the Wind shows that wind power can be a key element of our clean energy future.

Wind power is already growing rapidly around the country as well as here in New York. Last year alone, wind-generated electricity averted an estimated 1.9 million metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions in the state. Wind turbines—largely from Western, Central, and North-Central Upstate New York—produced enough energy to power over 360,000 homes, while reducing dangerous carbon pollution equal to taking 400,000 cars off the road.  More wind doesn’t just mean less global warming. It also means cleaner air, better health, conserved water, and more jobs for New Yorkers.

Governor Andrew Cuomo is helping to facilitate more wind energy deployment. In his annual State of the State speech last month, the governor announced that the Empire State’s transition to clean energy will include building 300 additional wind turbines by 2020 and is proposing a master plan to direct future offshore wind turbine construction.

Offshore wind in particular can be a major tool to achieve the governor’s pledge to generate 50 percent of New York’s electricity from clean, renewable sources by 2030. Deploying more wind power will also help Cuomo deliver on his commitment to reduce climate-changing pollution by 40 percent below 1990 levels over the next 14 years.

A rapid expansion in wind power is both feasible and affordable. The cost of wind energy is now at or below the cost of new natural gas power plants in regions like ours, where wind resources are abundant. More than a dozen reports by utilities, independent grid operators, the U.S. Department of Energy, and other experts have found that the electric grid can accommodate much more wind energy than we currently generate.

Wind power can move us to a future in which we are setting records for increasing amounts of pollution-free energy, instead of setting high temperature records. However, in order to accelerate our deployment of wind energy, we need our leaders to act.