In today's world, finding common ground is not always an
easy task. But here's one thing all Americans can agree on:
we want to have clean air and a healthy economy. Because
of technologies like wind energy, we don't have to choose one
over the other.
Growing wind power powers American job creation and
economic development, while over time increasing U.S. energy
independence by using a homegrown, emission-free electricity
America's 100,000—strong wind power workforce
Over 100,000 Americans are employed by the wind industry
today, across all 50 states. Many of these are manufacturing
positions at the nation's more than 500 factories that build
the blades, towers, and other parts that go into wind turbines.
Over 25,000 of these U.S. workers have well-paying jobs at wind
manufacturing facilities, breathing new life into an economic
sector that has struggled for decades.
"I've got very strong high moral and Christian values, and I
think they line up very well with this kind of energy," says Blake
Kasper, a Quality Supervisor at Broadwind Energy in Abilene,
Texas, where he helps build wind turbine towers. "There's just
so much work, orders keep pumping in. The opportunities are
Importantly, many of these new manufacturing jobs are
found across the Rust Belt, hiring workers where they're needed
the most. Ohio leads the way with 62 wind factories, while
Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Michigan boast 26 each.
And these jobs will continue growing. Wind manufacturing
jobs will grow to 33,000 by the end of President Trump's first
term, according to recent analysis from Navigant consulting.
Because 99 percent of wind farms are built in rural areas,
many of the jobs that wind creates belong to those living in our
country's agricultural areas. This offers new career opportunities
in communities where those can be scarce.
For example, a wind turbine technician is by far America's
fastest growing job, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor
Statistics. The profession is projected to grow by 108 percent
over the next decade, far outpacing the next job on the list,
occupational therapy assistant, only increasing by 42 percent.
With nearly all of the country's 52,000, and counting, wind
turbines in rural areas, there is strong demand for more
technicians to keep them running smoothly.
The U.S. wind industry also proudly offers good career
opportunities to the men and women who serve our country—
veterans find wind energy jobs at a rate 50 percent higher than
the average industry.
This massive U.S. job creation will not stop anytime soon.
By 2020, there could by 248,000 wind-related jobs according to
Investing in rural America
You don't need to have a wind job to realize the economic
benefits of wind power, however. Wind farms bring new
resources into rural areas in a nearly unmatched scale.
Nearly all of the country's wind projects are built on private
land, which means farmers and ranchers get lease payments
in exchange for hosting wind turbines. These payments totaled
$245 million in 2016 alone, and approximately $175 million of
that total went to landowners in low-income counties. That
number will keep increasing as the U.S. wind industry continues
Lease payments offer income farmers and ranchers can
count on when commodity prices fluctuate or bad weather
hurts the harvest. For many families, these payments can make
the difference between continuing a multi-generation tradition
and ending a way of life. That's why some call wind energy their
"drought-proof cash crop."
However, entire communities benefit from these projects,
not just wind farm landlords.
Wind farms are often a county's largest taxpayers, so
they add substantial revenue to the local budget. This income
helps pay teacher salaries, fix roads and buy new ambulances.
Navigant projects new wind projects will create $8 billion of
added sales, income and property tax payments over just the
next four years, on top of payments coming from projects
that already exist. In all, wind will drive another $85 billion of
economic activity between now and 2020.
"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," the Omaha World-Herald recently reported.
Clean air, healthy communities
Wind energy provides all of these economic benefits while also
playing a major role in creating cleaner air.
By reducing harmful air pollutants like sulfur dioxide and
nitrogen oxides that cause smog and trigger asthma attacks,
wind created $7.3 billion in public health savings in 2015 alone.
By 2050, wind could prevent a total of 22,000 premature deaths
and save $108 billion in public health costs by reducing air
pollution, according to the Department of Energy.
"Unhealthy air is hazardous to our families and even
can threaten life itself," according to the American Lung
Association's (ALA) Healthy Air Campaign. That is why the ALA
has adopted as one of its goals the transition to a clean energy
future, "to protect all people from the harm of air pollution."
Wind's clean air role should grow in the years to come.
Today, the U.S. has enough installed wind capacity to power 24
million homes, and it is on track to supply 10 percent of the
country's electricity by 2020.
Substantial job creation, billions of dollars of economic
investment and clearer air—American wind power helps us
create the healthy economy and environment we all want.