Economic Benefits

Rural and rust belt America: wind power is ready to help

Wind power is creating American manufacturing jobs and rural economic development.
Rural and rust belt America: wind power is ready to help
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There was quite a bit of news coverage over the holidays about President-elect Trump’s comments on wind energy to The New York Times.

Here’s what you need to know: wind energy works for America. And American wind power is ready to work with President-elect Trump’s incoming administration to create good jobs and bring billions of dollars in economic development to rural and rust belt communities.

A job-creating, homegrown product

A majority of the value of a U.S. wind farm is built right here in the U.S.A., making wind power a bright spot for rust belt states that are hurting for business.

No. 1 in the U.S. wind turbine market is General Electric, an American company. The No. 2 and No. 3 suppliers operate factories in Iowa, Kansas, and Colorado. More than 500 U.S. factories build wind-related parts and materials

Ohio, for example, now has 62 factories that make wind turbine parts. In Iowa, a former Maytag plant closed and sent jobs overseas, only to be replaced by a wind turbine blade manufacturer.

This means well-paying jobs for American workers: wind-supported jobs grew by 20 percent last year alone. There are now 88,000 overall positions spread across all 50 states, and 380,000 jobs predicted by 2030.

Rural America’s economic engine

Wind energy offers rural America a drought-proof cash crop and billions in private investment.

Wind farm construction has already brought $128 billion of private investment into the U.S. economy over the last decade, and the industry is prepared to invest another $80 billion in the next four years. This money typically goes where it’s needed most, as seven out of 10 wind farms are in low-income counties.

Landowners receive $222 million in lease payments every year for hosting wind turbines, providing stable income they can count on. It’s becoming “the new corn” for America’s farmers and ranchers.

“Wind energy, the fastest-growing source of electricity in the U.S., is transforming low-income rural areas in ways not seen since the federal government gave land to homesteaders 150 years ago,” Nebraska’s Omaha World-Herald recently reported.

Communities in wind country benefit too

Wind farms increase local tax revenue, providing small-town America with resources to fix roads, build hospitals, and buy new emergency equipment. It’s been a huge boon for local schools.

Wind projects in Oklahoma are expected to pay counties and schools over $1 billion during their lifetimes. An Ohio school district bought every student a laptop using wind farm revenue, fully-funded the repair and replacement program, and built a new athletic center for everyone in town. In New York, one rural town was able to eliminate local taxes for eight years.

For young people who want to stay in their hometowns, wind energy offers an attractive career choice—wind turbine technician. That’s now by far the country’s fastest growing job description, expected to increase by 108 percent within a decade, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Wind power and wildlife conservation go hand-in-hand

Studies show that wind energy has among the lowest impacts on wildlife and their habitats of any way to generate large amounts of electricity.

Despite the misconceptions, wind turbines are involved in less than 0.01 percent of all human-related bird impacts. That’s why leading wildlife organizations like the National Audubon Society and the National Wildlife Federation support responsibly-sited wind farms.

Wind energy is cheap now

Wind power is now cost-competitive with all other sources of electricity in many areas of the country, saving consumers money on their electric bills and hedging against rising prices for fuel. All forms of energy have incentives, most of them permanent in the tax code. The federal incentive for wind power is already being phased out starting on Jan. 1, having succeeded in creating a new low-cost solution for America’s power needs.

Energy Incentives 2

With benefits like these, it’s easy to see why 83 percent of Americans support wind energy, according to a recent Pew poll. If you want this clean, affordable, homegrown energy source to keep growing, please sign up today to be counted among wind’s supporters at the Power of Wind, and make your voice heard when it matters the most.

 

Economic Benefits

Greg is the Writer and Content Manager for AWEA. He is the head editor and writer for Into the Wind, and oversees AWEA's online content and opinion writing. Greg holds a Master's degree in Global Environmental Policy from American University's School of International Service. He also holds a Bachelor's degree in International Relations and Journalism from Lehigh University.

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