Given the renewed debate about the impact of global warming in the wake of Superstorm Sandy, it’s worth noting that the United States has a good chance of meeting ambitious goals for reductions in greenhouse gas emissions by 2020.
Part of the reason is the emergence of domestic natural gas to supplant coal in many power plants. Another part is the development of higher-mileage vehicles. Yet another is the rise of renewable energy. Wind turbines, for example, produce enough power in Pennsylvania alone to supply about 250,000 homes.
The rise of wind power has been a positive force in other ways, as well. At least 22 factories across the state produce components for wind-power generation and Gamesa, the Spanish wind-power giant, has its North American headquarters in Philadelphia. Statewide, the industry is responsible for more than 3,000 jobs; nationwide, the number is more than 37,000.
Wind power’s growth has been fueled partially by a federal clean energy tax credit, which will expire at the end of the year unless Congress renews it.
The credit has been effective. Since 1980, it has helped spur the growth of wind power and to reduce its cost by 90 percent since 1980. By helping to grow the market for wind power, the credit also has helped to build the wind turbine manufacturing industry. Now, about 60 percent of the typical turbine is built in the United States, compared to about 25 percent in 2005.
The Pennsylvania congressional delegation should be in the forefront of the vote to preserve the tax credit.