New Report: Wind Energy Yields Major Environmental Benefits for New Mexico; Reducing Pollution and Saving Water

For Immediate Release

Albuquerque, New Mexico – Wind energy is on the rise in New Mexico and is providing huge environmental benefits for the state, according to a new report released today by Environment New Mexico. New Mexico’s wind energy is already avoiding more than 1.3 million metric tons of climate-altering carbon pollution – the equivalent of taking over 280,000 cars off the road, while saving over 600 million gallons of water per year – enough to meet the needs of over 15,000 people.

Thanks to its current and future benefits, wind power is a key component of President Obama’s Climate Action Plan to reduce the carbon pollution fueling global warming 17 percent by 2020. The plan calls for an expansion of renewable energy, investment in energy efficiency, and the first-ever federal limits on carbon pollution from power plants.

“Wind energy has given us a lot to be thankful for this Thanksgiving,” said Dominick Lawton of Environment New Mexico. “Now our state and national leaders need to take action to make sure we don’t leave this cornucopia of environmental benefits on the table.” 

The report, Wind Energy for a Cleaner America, also shows that today’s wind energy in New Mexico avoids 1,265 tons of smog-causing nitrogen oxides and 1,563 tons of sulfur dioxide, which cause acid rain and soot.

“Pollution-free wind energy is already providing cleaner and healthier air for New Mexico,” said Lawton. “Continuing to grow wind power in New Mexico will lead to less smog and deadly soot pollution because New Mexico will be able to shift away from burning polluting fossil fuels, like coal.”

The report shows that wind energy is now providing more than 2.2 million megawatt-hours (MWh) of electricity in New Mexico, and New Mexico could be on track to see an 81% increase in wind production in the next five years. If state and federal officials commit to continued progress, New Mexico could reduce the carbon pollution equivalent of nearly 200,000 passenger vehicles, and save enough water to meet the annual water needs of over 12,000 people.

“With the right grid-management and electric transmission line policies, New Mexico's abundant wind resource will be the "go-to" source for clean, low-cost electricity for Arizona and Southern California,” said Jason Marks, former Public Regulation Commissioner. “We'll create jobs and bring economic development to our state, while saving our neighbors money and saving everyone from the adverse effects of pollution and unnecessary use of scarce water resources. By the way, we know the optimum, lowest long-term cost electricity portfolio has at least 30% of all power coming from wind generation, a fraction that is eminently achievable based on the European experience as well as on sophisticated modeling of U.S. grids. “

New Mexico’s recent progress on wind is the direct result of policies such as the Renewables Portfolio Standard (RPS) – and federal incentives for wind power. Despite the clear benefits of wind and widespread bipartisan support for federal policies to promote renewable energy, fossil fuel interests and their political allies have vigorously opposed these initiatives.

The main federal incentives for wind – the investment tax credit (ITC) and the production tax credit (PTC) – are currently set to expire at the end of 2013.

“Wind energy is improving our quality of life in New Mexico,” said Lawton. “We cannot let polluters and their allies stand in the way of additional benefits of wind. We applaud Senators Udall and Heinrich for leading the charge supporting critical incentives, and urge them to do whatever it takes to extend federal wind incentives before the end of the year.”