Economic Benefits

Report: Nebraska’s $1 billion from renewables just scratching the surface

Image from A Renewable America.
Report: Nebraska’s $1 billion from renewables just scratching the surface

More than $1 billion of investment in renewable energy has generated over 22,000 jobs for Nebraska alone, a recently released report finds.

The report comes from A Renewable America, a project of the Wind Energy Foundation to raise public awareness of how each of the six major U.S. renewable power sectors are providing clean, affordable, and reliable electricity. In addition to featuring some notable numbers, the report includes case studies showing the economic impact of individual projects in the state.  All four case studies involve wind—three utility-scale projects, as well as Creighton University’s renewable energy initiative involving both wind and solar facilities.

A couple of examples from the case studies that show some serious economic muscle: the 200-megawatt (MW) Prairie Breeze Wind Energy Center delivers an estimated $3 million annually in tax revenue, landowner payments, and staff salaries. The project supported 230 jobs during construction and now hosts 14 full-time operations-and-maintenance positions. The Broken Bow 1 and 2 wind facilities, meanwhile, created an estimated 400 construction jobs, 23 permanent positions, and $185,000 in annual tax revenue. The project has driven $16 million in direct investment into the rural community of Custer County.

“Powering Up Nebraska” is the latest report of several on various individual states coming from A Renewable America. Other reports on Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New York, Ohio, Oregon, and Washington are available on A Renewable America’s website.

What may be even more impressive within the pages of the Nebraska report (as well as the other states’) are the findings on what renewable energy can do in the future. According to the report, Nebraska has the potential to deploy 6,225 additional megawatts of renewable energy by 2030, which would translate into an impressive 73 percent of overall electricity use in the state. Such a build-out would create an estimated 44,645 jobs and generate over $64 million in annual wages and benefits in addition to $17 million in annual land-leasing revenue. Understandably, such numbers have garnered the attention of in-state news outlets such as the Omaha World-Herald and the North Platte Telegraph.

Another interesting forward-looking element of the report is its coverage of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s pending Clean Power Plan, which calls for states to institute their own strategies to reduce carbon dioxide emissions in electricity generation. (Just recently, AWEA explained how wind can contribute to meeting the Clean Power Plan.)

The Nebraska report finds that not only can the Cornhusker State hit the Clean Power Plan targets, it “has the potential for significant renewable electricity development far beyond what is projected under the proposed standards.”

And, of course, it can reap the economic rewards at the same time.

Economic Benefits

Carl has been a part of the AWEA team since 2006. He brings both his expertise in communications as well as experience with the evolving wind energy industry to the job of overseeing AWEA's online and written publications including the Wind Energy Weekly, WINDPOWER Update, WINDPOWER Today, and various print materials. He has worked as a journalist in the energy industry as a staff writer for Public Utilities Fortnightly magazine and in the association sector as senior editor at Association Management magazine. He also has covered the home-building industry, where his areas of greatest interest were sustainable development and "smart growth," and has written articles for numerous other publications as a freelance writer. Carl received his B.A. from James Madison University and spent some time in New Orleans employed as a teacher as well as working with homeless youth.

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