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  • Maine Wind farms overwhelming provide environmental and health benefits and jobs

    Kibby wind farms in Western Maine. State government cleared the path for wind farms in Maine with Governor John Baldacci. Thousands of high paying skilled jobs are created with every wind farm. Wind power. A new study also proves wind power adds to Maine's quality of life with health and environmental benefits.         Photo by Ramona du Houx

    By Ramona du Houx

    Investing in wind farms moves Maine's economy forward creating great jobs while adding to Maine's quality of life with health and environmental benefits.

    The Wind for ME Coalition today released the first-of-its-kind study showing the overwhelming environmental and health benefits from Maine’s existing wind farms.

    “This study confirms what we have long known, but have never seen quantified in this level of detail,” said Jeremy Payne, executive director of the Maine Renewable Energy Association. “Maine wind farms are providing critical environmental benefits and this helps make clear why so many Mainers strongly support the continued development of clean, emission-free wind energy.”

    The March 2015 report, “Analysis of Estimated Emission Benefits of Maine Wind Farm Generation” completed by Sustainable Energy Advantage (SEA), analyzed Maine’s wind farm fleet output and then determined the environmental impact. Wind energy producers in Maine are replacing fossil fuels and are helping to substantially reduce harmful fossil fuel pollutants.

    SEA found that Maine wind farms: In 2013, reduced CO2 emissions by 490,000 tons – the equivalent of eliminating CO2 pollution from 94,000 Maine automobiles; By 2020 the wind farms will reduce CO2 emissions by an additional 2 million tons – the equivalent of removing pollution from more than 400,000 automobiles; and In 2013, eliminated sulfur oxide (SOx) emissions by 201 tons; and nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions by 123 tons – notably, pollution from SOX and NOX emissions are known to cause acid rain, smog, acidification in lakes, rivers and oceans, and respiratory and cardiovascular illnesses.[1]

    “It is clear to us that Maine’s wind farms are really helping to protect public health, particularly our vulnerable populations of the elderly, the young, and those with respiratory issues, like asthma,” said Ed Miller, senior vice president for public policy of the American Lung Association of the Northeast. “We know that Maine has to make decisions now in order to protect itself from short and long-term harmful fossil fuel pollutants, and reduce our alarmingly high asthma rates.”

    “Clean, renewable energy sources like wind are a key solution to climate disruption which is already harming Maine’s environment, health and economy," said Glen Brand, Sierra Club Maine Chapter director. “By detailing the carbon and air pollution reductions from Maine’s wind power resources, this report provides further evidence of the strong environmental and health benefits of clean wind energy for Maine families.”

    Maine’s 2013 wind fleet generated 431 megawatts of capacity, which is enough to power approximately 61,000 Maine homes for one year. By 2020 when our wind farm output is expected to reach 1,700 megawatts of capacity it could power 276,000 Maine homes for an entire year – this is approximately 38 percent of Maine’s total households.

    By 2020 Maine’s wind farms offset the pollution of more than 400,000 automobiles – or nearly half of all the registered passenger vehicles in Maine.[2] About Wind for Maine: Wind for Maine is a growing coalition of Maine people, businesses and communities that support the responsible development and growth of wind energy in Maine as a way to strengthen the state’s economy, reduce our dependence of fossil fuel and protect the environment.

    More wind farms in Maine, or offshore floating on platforms designed by UMaine, mean more jobs with high wages. It takes large construction crews to build these turbines. Reed & Reed have started a special branch of their company just for errecting wind towers.

     [1] http://www.epa.gov/captrade/documents/power.pdf [2] http://quickfacts.census.gov/qfd/states/23000.html