A recent column (“We should at least consider possible external costs of wind or coal energy,” May 24) raised important questions regarding the true costs of our electricity choices but did not provide definitive answers.
There are different dimensions of those external costs, but what’s clear is that carefully located wind power is, from an environmental perspective, one of the least environmentally damaging of all utility-scale sources of generation available today.
Some sources produce harmful air and water pollution that threaten the health of people and wildlife. Other sources create toxic wastes that require expensive, permanent storage. But the generation of electricity from wind turbines does not create air pollution, water contamination or toxic solid waste.
Moreover, the lifecycle carbon emissions of wind-powered electricity are less than any other source of electricity generation, according to researchers at the Stanford University Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering.
Similarly, wind power has the least lifecycle water use, per a recent study by the University of Colorado at Boulder and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory.
Even better, wind energy is now one of the least expensive forms — even without government support — of newly built generation on a megawatt-hour basis, according to the investment analysis firm Lazard and data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration.
The externalities related to our generation of electricity do matter and should be considered in community decision-making.
And when the external environmental costs of wind power are accounted for, thoughtfully located wind power, integrated into a diverse electricity portfolio, is a very compelling choice — both environmentally and economically.
Jesse Kharbanda, executive
director, Hoosier Environmental Council
Help yourselves to my wallet, oil companies