Wind Energy, Income and Jobs
Does wind-energy production lead to higher incomes and more jobs for local residents? A study of counties in the Great Plains and Rocky Mountains indicates that answer may be yes.
[imgcontainer right][img:windinstal.jpg][source]Energy EconomicsThis map shows the installed wind-generating capacity of counties in the Great Plains and Rocky Mountains regions. The study found a correlation between the existence of wind-power generation facilities and higher incomes and employment. Click to enlarge.
Usually these economic claims about wind energy are based on what we think will happen at the national level. For example, producing energy at home instead of buying it abroad means more dollars circulating in the U.S. economy, the argument goes. But what about the local (and largely rural) communities that are home to these wind farms? What’s the benefit there?
Scholars at the USDA Economic Research Service and other agencies looked at individual counties in the Great Plains and Rocky Mountains regions, parts of the United States with an abundance of wind-energy potential. The study looked at what happened from 2000 to 2008. (Here’s a short report on the findings and a link to the entire study.)
The scholars found that there is a correlation among wind-power production capacity, personal income and job creation in the 1,009 counties they studied.
For each megawatt of wind power installed in a county from 2000-2008, the county’s personal income increased by about $9,300 to $11,500 (depending on which economic model the scholars used). In other words, counties with more wind-power appeared to be having a greater growth in personal income.
The scholars found that the top one-quarter of wind-energy-producing counties increased their county’s personal income by about $2.6 million from 2000 to 2008 (all these figures are for the entire county, not per person).
[imgcontainer right] [img:wind1.jpg][source]Energy EconomicsThis map shows the potential capacity for wind-power generation in Great Plains and Rocky Mountains counties. Click to enlarge.