The Economic Impact of Wind Energy

[imgbelt img=texas-wind-turbines.jpeg] There are 47,000 megawatts of wind energy capacity installed in the U.S. The authors of a new study say that for each megawatt of wind capacity, a county gains half a job and just over $11,000 in total personal income.


[imgcontainer left] [img:texas-wind-turbines.jpeg] This is the wind energy farm in Roscoe, Texas, where 627 wind turbines can churn out as much as 781.5 megawatts of power. A new study finds that for every megawatt of wind capacity installed in a county, half a job is created.

There has been a surge in wind power development in recent years, and wind energy has been promoted both as a clean supply of energy and as a way to build local economies, especially in rural areas. 

Wind energy has recently become part of the presidential election, as incentives for wind development have been promoted by President Obama and dismissed by Republican nominee Mitt Romney.

What impact does wind energy have on local jobs and income? Until now, there has been no systematic analysis of how wind energy development affects rural counties. 

A new paper by five researchers* attempts to measure what the wind industry means for rural counties. According to the study, published in the current issue of Energy Economics, the researchers find that wind energy development does increase both total personal income and employment in the county where the development takes place.

The economists looked at wind capacity installed from 2000 to 2008 in 12 states: Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Texas, Colorado, Montana, and Wyoming. In all, the study area included 1,009 counties.

The researchers found that for every megawatt of wind power capacity installed, total county personal income increased by $11,150 over the 2000 to 2008 period.

And, for every megawatt of wind energy installed in a county, one half of a job was created.