In Iowa, Wind Energy Helps Avoid 8.4 Million Tons Of Carbon Emissions

by Guest Contributor Kiley Kroh.

Wind energy. Credit: Shutterstock
Wind energy. Credit: Shutterstock

Originally published on Climate Progress.

Iowa’s hugely successful wind industry isn’t just an economic driver, it’s having a major impact on cutting pollution and saving water. Wind energy generation in Iowa avoids more than 8.4 million metric tons of climate-altering carbon pollution — the equivalent of taking 1.7 million cars off the road, according to a new report released by Environment Iowa.

Additionally, the report found that wind energy saves Iowans nearly 3.8 billion gallons of water per year, enough to meet the needs of over 158,000 people. The U.S. National Drought Monitor shows a significant portion of the state is in moderate to severe drought conditions and has been for several months.

The rapid growth of wind energy in Iowa is remarkable; it now provides 13.9 million megawatt-hours (MWh) of electricity, equal to 24.5 percent of the state’s total electricity and the highest percentage nationwide. Further, Environment Iowa predicts that “Iowa could be on track to nearly double its wind production in the next five years so that wind could generate as much as 50 percent of all electricity in the state by 2018.”

A key reason for the state’s ability to attract major investment in wind energy is the federal Production Tax Credit (PTC), which is currently set to expire at the end of the year. In May, MidAmerican Energy Co. announced it will invest $1.9 billion in wind energy in Iowa, the largest single economic investment in the state. The project is expected to add 1,050 megawatts of wind generation and the added wind generation is expected to cut consumer rates by $3.3 million in 2015 and $10 million annually by 2017, the company estimated.

As USA Today pointed out, unlike recently announced fertilizer plant construction projects, “MidAmerican Energy will receive no state incentives but will receive federal wind production tax credits.”

Despite its vital role in driving the expansion of the wind industry — and driving economic growth not only in Iowa, but states such as Texas, California, and Colorado, to name a few — the PTC will expire at the end of the year, absent Congressional intervention. “On the strength of the tax credit, Kansas became a leader in wind energy development as the industry invested nearly $3 billion in the state during 2011 and 2012,” The Topeka Capital-Journal reported. But Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-Kansas) is unmoved; “It expires at the end of the year, and I’m urging my colleagues to simply let it happen,” Pompeo said. Also pushing for expiration are several groups backed by the ultra-conservative, anti-clean energy, petrochemical billionaire Koch brothers.

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There They Go Again: Big Oil Whines About Big Wind

by Tina Casey

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Wind turbine by lamoix.

The wind wars are heating up again as Congress considers another extension of the production tax credit for wind power. The latest salvo is an open letter to federal legislators under the auspices of the American Energy Alliance,* an organization which seems to think that referring to the American wind industry as Big Wind is something other than a fart joke. We’ll get to the letter itself in a bit, but for now we’re more interested in the connection between AEA and our favorite climate change deniers, the Koch brothers.

Big Oil And Climate Change Denial

If you’ve been following the climate change denial lobby, you probably know until a few years ago one of the most notorious climate change deniers in the oil industry was Exxon Mobil. The company was a major funder of the lobbying organization Heartland Institute, a leading force in anti-climate management efforts.

By 2007, Exxon Mobil was publicly disavowing its denialist position and the company cut ties to Heartland, but since then the Koch brothers have more than made up the difference (for those of you new to the topic, Koch Industries has been challenging climate management on a wide array of fronts).

As far as the relationship between AEA and the Koch brothers goes, while the organization is not required to disclose its sources, our friends over at SourceWatch have connected the dots for us.

According to SourceWatch, AEA was founded in 2008 by Thomas Pyle, who also serves as its current president. Pyle’s roots are in the petrochemical industries lobby, which includes work for Koch Industries.

Pyle is also the President of AEA’s sister organization, the Institute for Energy Research (IER), which according to a report by Greenpeace continues to receive both direct and indirect support from the Koch brothers.

They Write Letters

AEA’s anti-wind tax credit letter is brief and to the point, positioning itself as a grass roots effort with 100 signing organizations representing “millions of Americans.”

That positioning is reinforced by AEA’s website, which features the following warning on its home page…

Thanks to Big Wind the hidden cost of wind energy may get even MORE expensive.

…along with an exhortation to retweet the following message:

Big Wind’s tax credit already cost tax payers $12B and now they want more? Time to #EndtheWindGiveaway via @AEA

However, among the many grass roots style names on the list is a generous helping of “Big” organizations openly supported by the Koch brothers, including the 60 Plus Association, Americans for Prosperity, and Freedomworks.

As for those groups with grass roots-sounding names, it’s worth noting that several are Tea Party affiliates. Though positioning itself as a grass roots movement, the Tea Party is a corporate creature as revealed by a recent peer-reviewed study that examines the decades-long linkage between the use of astroturfing by the tobacco lobby, anti-climate management efforts, and Koch brothers funding, which resulted in the founding of the Tea Party in 2002.

The Tea Party affiliates on the list include the Greenfield Area Tea Party, the Mansfield North Central Ohio Tea Party, the Outer Banks Tea Party, the State Coordinator (OH) Tea Party Patriots, and the Georgia Tea Party, Inc.

We’re not saying that a few bad apples spoil the whole barrel, but if anyone out there is familiar with the money behind any other “grass roots” organizations on the list, feel free to drop us a note in the comment thread.

*Clarification: The American Energy Alliance is a signatory to the letter, which is part of an Americans for Prosperity project.

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This article, There They Go Again: Big Oil Whines About Big Wind, is syndicated from Clean Technica and is posted here with permission.

About the Author

Tina Casey Tina Casey specializes in military and corporate sustainability, advanced technology, emerging materials, biofuels, and water and wastewater issues. Tina’s articles are reposted frequently on Reuters, Scientific American, and many other sites. You can also follow her on Twitter @TinaMCasey and Google+.

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