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Wind Blows Coal Away
March 25, 2011
Kristen Welker-Hood, ScD MSN, Director of Environmental
Health Programs provided expert testimony at the Maryland House of Delegates
and the Senate this month. She presented
in support of offshore wind energy by detailing the public health impacts of
coal-fired power plants. PSR strongly supports clean, renewable energy policies,
which improve air quality and displace dirty electric generation.
The Maryland Offshore Wind Energy Act of 2011 (House Bill
1054 and Senate Bill 861) will create between 80 and 200 wind turbines 10
nautical miles off the coast of Maryland to produce 400 to 600 MW of
energy. This act is projected to produce
2.5% of energy for the state of Maryland which is about 10 to 15% of Maryland’s
renewable energy when completed helping to achieve the Maryland Renewable
Portfolio Standard (RPS) of having 22% of Maryland’s energy come from renewable
sources. Currently, Maryland gets 30% of
its energy from sources outside of the state; the 500 MW offshore wind farm
project, when fully up and running, can produce enough energy to power 79% of
the coastal homes or about half the homes in Baltimore City. Commercial scale facilities have been
operating in Europe since 1991, and in the US, states are progressively looking
towards renewable energy sources.
Delaware and Massachusetts have passed legislation for building
off-shore wind farms, New Jersey is considering implementing a similar act and
Rhode Island has a pilot project in place.
Air pollutants such as sulfur dioxide (SO2),
oxides of nitrogen (NOx), and particulates cause various health
problems including but not limited to asthma and chronic respiratory illnesses,
which result in hospitalizations, premature death, and loss in productivity due
to sick days. In 2005 National Academy
of Science estimated that the US suffered $62 billion in
health damages due to coal-fired power plants, or an average of $156 million
per coal plant. Since emissions from wind power are close to zero (emissions
from wind manufacturing and operations are less than 2% those of coal
combustion per MWh), their benefits can be approximated by the health impact of
the power displaced. Operations of wind energy facility will greatly reduce
Maryland citizens’ exposure to dangerous air pollutants.
Read Kristen Welker-Hood’s, ScD MSN WrittenTestimony