The cost of electricity is measured in more than dollars and cents.
In the average year, pollution from power plants cost Massachusetts residents 78,000 lost work days, 441 premature births, 104 hospital emergency room visits and 8,800 asthma attacks.
The cost from burning coal, which comprises more than half the US electric production, is even higher than most other fuels.
Coal dust kills 2,000 US miners yearly, and since 1973 the federal black lung disease benefits program has cost $35 billion
Health and environmental costs bring the total price for coal-based energy to $0.055 to $0.083 kWh. In comparison the cost of producing electricity from wind energy has steadily declined by more than 80% since the early 1980s.
Extracting, transporting and refining oil creates significant environmental risks. Oil spills and ballast cleanouts in routine offloading operations endanger birds and marine life. And although rare, oil tanker spills—like the Exxon Valdez, which released 10.8 million gallons of oil—can foul our beaches and put wildlife at severe risk.
Currently, America relies heavily on foreign oil, a reliance that has steadily increased since the early 1970s. At that time, only about a third of our petroleum came from outside the US. Today more than half of our oil needs are met from foreign sources, and if nothing changes, we will become even more dependent on foreign oil. It is estimated that by the end of the decade 75% of our oil could come from sources outside the US. Relying on a strategic resource controlled by foreign sources puts our country at risk to political pressures and interruption in supply. If we seek to offset this dependence by using new US sites, such as the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska, we risk destroying irreplaceable ecosystems.
Nuclear plants generate waste including plutonium and radioactive cesium, strontium, iodine and krypton, which needs to be transported and stored safely. This waste will remain lethal for thousands of generations. If stolen, the plutonium can be used to make weapons. Because of the security risks associated with nuclear energy, generating plants and storage facilities require complex security.
Wind stands out as the energy source that best balances environment, health and economics—it is a true alternative for cost-effective energy.
Sources:Supplying Cape Cod's Electricity :: The True Cost of Electricity
 The Particulate-Related Health Benefits of Reducing Power Plant Emissions, Abt Associates, 10/2000
 Science Magazine 8/24/01
 American Wind Energy Association