What is wind power, and why is it clean?

For hundreds of years, humans have harnessed wind power for energy—from grinding grain and pumping water, to generating enough electricity to power millions of homes across the United States.

Vermont’s wind resource could provide far more electricity that it does today—for our homes and businesses, as well as for increasingly common and affordable electric heating and transportation options. But our state continues to rely on energy from dirty, dangerous and expensive sources. Generating electricity from burning coal, drilling for natural gas, or relying on leak-prone nuclear plants pollutes the air and water, and contributes to the carbon pollution that’s destabilizing our climate here in Vermont and around the world.

Learn more about wind power in our in-depth FAQ.

Wind power is clean because wind turbines don’t produce heat-trapping greenhouse gasses, or other air pollution, during their operation. It takes a tiny fraction of the water to produce wind power that it takes to produce power from coal, gas, or nuclear plants, leaving more water for other purposes.  And unlike fossil fuels and nuclear power, wind power doesn’t leak, spill, or threaten human health.

In fact, it takes a wind turbine just five to eight months of operation to produce the same amount of energy that goes into its manufacture, its installation, its operation, its maintenance, and its eventual decommissioning. That means over the course of its lifetime a wind turbine delivers up to 80 times more energy than is used in its production, maintenance and retirementWind energy is among the lowest ‘lifecycle emissions’ of all energy production technologies.

What state plans exist to guide Vermont’s transition to a clean energy future?

As Vermonters, we take pride in our reputation as environmental leaders. That includes the state’s ambitious vision for our clean energy future. After many months of work and a tremendous amount of public input, in 2011 the state adopted a plan calling for 90% of our energy needs (electricity, heating and transportation) to be met with renewable resources by 2050. This plan was updated in 2016, and will be revisited every 6 years going forward.

Did you know?

Clean, local, renewable wind power first sustainably powered Vermont homes in 1941.
The first megawatt-size (1.25 MW) turbine in the world was installed and connected to the electric grid in Castleton, Vermont in 1941. The Castleton windmill remained the world’s largest until the serial production on wind turbines began in Holland in 1979.

American wind power has already made a significant impact on global warming pollution.
In their 2015 report, “Turning to the Wind,” Environment America found that, “Since 2001, wind power in the United States has displaced more than 764 million metric tons of carbon dioxide – more than a year’s worth of CO2 emissions from the entire country of Canada.” In addition, “In 2014 alone, wind-generated electricity averted an estimated 143 million metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions – as much as would be produced by 37 typical coal-fired power plants.”

Learn more: check out our FAQ to dive deeper into wind power in Vermont. 

Recent Wind Energy News

Washington Electric Co-op Opposes Wind Moratorium

Washington Electric Co-op Opposes Wind Moratorium

The Board of Directors of Washington Electric Cooperative, voted on January 9, 2013 to oppose a moratorium on wind development in Vermont stating, “It would be a serious, regressive and damaging mistake to enact an arbitrary moratorium, or to set conditions whose apparent intent is to make sure no wind projects can get built. Climate ...

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VT Enviro Groups Slam Wind Moratorium

VT Enviro Groups Slam Wind Moratorium

A proposed three-year moratorium on renewable wind energy development in Vermont was roundly criticized today by some of Vermont’s leading environmental organizations, including the Vermont Public Interest Research Group, Conservation Law Foundation, 350Vermont, Sierra Club Vermont Chapter, Vermont Natural Resources Council, Citizens Awareness Network, National Wildlife Federation’s Northeast Regional Center, and the Vermont Yankee Decommissioning ...

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President Obama, Congress Save Wind Power in Fiscal Cliff Agreement

President Obama, Congress Save Wind Power in Fiscal Cliff Agreement

For Immediate Release: January 2, 2013 MONTPELIER, VT – Today President Obama will sign into law a bill that extends key tax credits for wind power and averts the ‘fiscal cliff.’ The main federal incentives for wind power – the renewable energy Production Tax Credit (PTC) and the offshore wind Investment Tax Credit (ITC) – expired ...

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Wind Turbine Health Impact Study: Report of Independent Expert Panel

Wind Turbine Health Impact Study: Report of Independent Expert Panel

A number of new wind projects have been built in Massachusetts in recent years. To ensure renewable energy developments can be built while maintaining the health and well-being of project neighbors, the Commonwealth convened an extensive study of public health concerns. Their scientific, peer-reviewed study concluded that there are no health impacts that can be ...

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