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NEW ENERGY INVESTMENTS COULD SPUR ECONOMY IN MIDWESTERN STATES

 WASHINGTON, March 2 /PRNewswire/ -- A well-designed strategy to increase energy production from the wind, the sun and energy crops in the Midwest will boost employment and strengthen the region's industrial and agricultural base. Wind energy resources in the region are enormous -- there are sites in every state where wind energy installations are cost-competitive with building new coal plants. Advanced biomass technologies could provide electric power equivalent to one-third of current demand.
 These are the conclusions of a new report by the Union of Concerned Scientists. "Powering the Midwest: Renewable Electricity for the Economy and the Environment" documents the benefits to the economics of the Midwestern states of harnessing their domestic renewable energy resources. Such a strategy would:
 -- create new industries and jobs for the Midwest to meet growing American and international demand for renewable energy technology and equipment;
 -- diversify the region's electricity supply mix and so protect against the risks of future price increases, such as new pollution fees or higher oil and gas prices; and
 -- significantly reduce emissions of air pollutants and carbon dioxide that would otherwise be associated with the construction of new fossil fuel plants.
 "This report is the most comprehensive and detailed assessment of renewable energy in the Midwest ever compiled," noted UCS Research Director Michael Brower. "Through a new computer mapping system, we believe we have identified the most promising areas for building wind farms or growing energy crops. As far as we know, this capability is unique in the field of renewable resource assessment."
 Among the principal findings:
 -- Wind energy is one of the least expensive and most abundant new sources of electricity -- fossil or renewable -- for the Midwest. The region's wind resources are second to none in the world.
 -- Numerous opportunities exist to expand biomass-electric generation in the near-term, such as converting aging coal plants to burn wood and other biomass fuels. Over the long term, power plants fueled by energy crops or crop residues could supply at least 10 percent of the current electric demand in every Midwest state at a cost of under 6 cents/kilowatthour (kWh). By way of comparison, new coal-fired plants generate electricity at 4.2-6.9 cents/kWh.
 -- Solar energy systems are cost-competitive in locations where the alternative is to install costly transmission lines or transformers.
 -- Solar and wind systems can be integrated into utility gridst?h no loss of eliability.
 For each of the 12 Midwestern states, the report contains a summary of key energy and economic statistics; a detailed accounting of its renewable resources, including cost data and maps identifying promising sites for development; and a summary of regulatory and legislative policies affecting renewable energy.
 The report carefully assesses the economic impacts to be expected as states rely more on wind, biomass and solar energy and less on coal, oil and gas. Though job creation varies from state to state, in general, more jobs are created through the use of cost-effective wind and biomass energy than through the use of fossil fuels.
 Job-creation benefits are maximized when the renewable resource replaces a fossil fuel imported from out-of-state and local companies supply most of the equipment and labor for the renewable technology. Yet, even in Ohio, with its own substantial coal resources, biomass energy investments create more jobs. In one scenario analyzed in the report, a utility investing in wood-fired plants rather than a coal- fired plant (using low-sulfur coal to comply with Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990) would create an average of nearly 700 more permanent new jobs than would have resulted from building the coal plant.
 "Of all the communities that might benefit from renewable energy projects, farmers could reap the greatest rewards," according to Eric Denzler, a principal researcher on the project. Growing energy crops and/or selling crop residues to biomass plants are significant new sources of farm income. Moreover, a farmer leasing a small fraction of land for wind turbines could increase the return on the land anywhere from 30 percent to over 100 percent, without disrupting farming operations.
 States need to act quickly to capture a share of the emerging market for renewable technology and to take advantage of existing federal tax incentives. The recent national energy bill passed by Congress established federal tax incentives for renewable energy projects established before 2000. For example, for each 100 megawatts of biomass-electric capacity not installed before 2000, states stand to lose as much as $100 million.
 "The study is more than just a resource assessment," said co- author Michael Tennis. "It is also a road map that shows state energy planners, state legislators, independent power producers and utility managers how to capitalize on the renewable energy resources in their state."
 The three key policy initiatives that would put the Midwest on a path to a renewable energy future are providing incentives to renewable energy industries, accounting for the environmental costs of fossil fuels and reforming utility regulatory processes.
 "Only a few states in the Midwest currently have laws and regulations that encourage renewable energy development," noted Brower. "Relatively simple changes in statutes and utility regulations could foster significant investments in wind, solar and biomass energy that would yield substantial economic and environmental benefits for the region and the country."
 -0- 3/2/93
 /NOTE: State editors who would like to insert specific results for a state can substitute the following sentences for the second and third sentence in the lead paragraph.
 -- Iowa: Wind energy alone could supply 67 times the electricity currently used in Iowa. Electricity from biomass could be equivalent to 217 percent of the state's current electric capacity.
 -- Illinois: Wind energy alone could supply almost half of the electricity
currently used in Illinois. Electricity from biomass could be equivalent to 43 percent of the state's current electric capacity.
 -- Indiana: Wind energy alone could supply one-tenth of the electricity currently used in Indiana. Electricity from biomass could be equivalent to 37 percent of the state's current electric capacity.
 -- Kansas: Wind energy alone could supply over 100 times the electricity currently used in Kansas. Electricity from biomass could be equivalent to 222 percent of the state's current electric capacity.
 -- Michigan: Wind energy alone could supply 4 times the electricity currently used in Michigan. Electricity from biomass could be equivalent to 21 percent of the state's current electric capacity.
 -- Minnesota: Wind energy alone could supply 50 times the electricity currently used in Minnesota. Electricity from biomass is equivalent to 137 percent of the state's current electric capacity.
 -- Missouri: Wind energy alone could supply 5 times the electricity currently used in Missouri. Electricity from biomass could be equivalent to 66 percent of the state's current electric capacity.
 -- Nebraska: Wind energy alone could supply 120 times the electricity currently used in Nebraska. Electricity from biomass could be equivalent to 292 percent of the state's current electric capacity.
 -- North Dakota: Wind energy alone could supply 115 times the electricity currently used in North Dakota. Electricity from biomass could be equivalent to 21 percent of the state's current electric capacity.
 -- Ohio: Wind energy alone could supply as much electricity as is currently used in Ohio. Electricity from biomass could be equivalent to 15 percent of the state's current electric capacity.
 -- South Dakota -- Wind energy alone could supply 400 times the electricity currently used in South Dakota. Electricity from biomass could be equivalent to 640 percent of the state's current electric capacity.
 -- Wisconsin: Wind energy alone could supply 6 times the electricity currently used in Wisconsin. Electricity from biomass could be equivalent to 56 percent of the state's current electric capacity./
 /CONTACT: Eileen Quinn or Alicia Luchowski, 202-332-0900 (except March 1-7), or Warren Leon, 617-547-5552, all of the Union of Concerned Scientists/


CO: Union of Concerned Scientists ST: District of Columbia IN: OIL UTI SU: ECO

DC -- DC004 -- 1838 03/02/93 10:04 EST
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