Over the past 30 years, Pittsburgh has been creating a healthier city. Pittsburgh has worked hard to clean up its air. Unfortunately, the people of Pittsburgh still must breathe too much air pollution, pollution that threatens their health and even risks their lives.
The American Lung Association published in April our latest "State of the Air" report with local grades on air quality. "State of the Air 2013" showed that the Pittsburgh region ranked eighth in the nation in year-round particle pollution and 24th for ozone, from data gathered between 2009 and 2011.
No one likes to see Pittsburgh ranked so high on these lists, but we publish the "State of the Air" report to inform people across the country about the air they breathe. We seek to encourage them to take action against pollution. The job of cleaning the air needs all of us to do our part. That's what's happening here in Pittsburgh.
Over the last year, we at the American Lung Association have partnered with ChoosePAWind to increase awareness of local, clean wind-energy choices for Pennsylvania consumers. Since 2011, ChoosePAWind has partnered with suppliers, nonprofits and other organizations to build consumer awareness around the need to support local wind-energy initiatives.
Consumers are encouraged to go to ChoosePAWind's website to learn more about the benefits of switching to locally sourced wind energy and learn which options are available. In Pittsburgh, consumers can switch to 100 percent local wind energy by choosing a Pennsylvania wind-energy supplier on PAPowerSwitch.com. Suppliers include Community Energy, Green Mountain Energy, Green Energy Collaborative and Ethical Energy.
Some Pittsburgh businesses already have switched their energy source to 100 percent Pennsylvania wind. These firms include Morgan, Lewis & Blockius LLP, Chatham University, Duquesne University, Leech Tishman, EverPower and UPMC.
By choosing 100 percent Pennsylvania wind energy, consumers offset fossil fuel-burning power plants, which are a major source of emissions that create the dangerous ozone and particle pollution that Pittsburgh residents breathe.
Making the switch also supports future local wind-farm development in areas such as Somerset and Cambria counties. This not only ensures the future for sustainable energy, but also directly impacts economies in Pennsylvania.
Help make the choice for cleaner energy and do your part in reducing air pollution. The American Lung Association in Pennsylvania has stepped up to the plate. We run our office on 90 percent Pennsylvania wind power and 10 percent Pennsylvania solar power.
Currently, Pennsylvania has 24 operating wind farms with a total installed capacity of over 1,340 megawatts that generate more than 3 billion kilowatt-hours of clean electricity each year. That's enough to power nearly 330,000 homes without producing harmful air emissions that come from burning fuel. With more residents and businesses signing up, together we can support more local wind farms and help avoid even more air pollution.
You can help us to continue this tradition in Pittsburgh of continually making our air cleaner and healthier. Take action today to switch to locally sourced wind energy.
Deb Brown is CEO of the American Lung Association of the Mid-Atlantic. Jim Spencer is president and CEO of EverPower Wind Holdings Inc. and founder of ChoosePAWind.