To the editor:
The number of Americans receiving their electricity from renewable wind energy grew rapidly in 2018, with enough installed capacity to power more than 30 million homes, according to the 2018 American Wind Energy Association Annual Market Report.
With additional projects in development, total wind capacity in the U.S. is projected to grow to 131,000 megawatts, or enough to power about 42 million homes, and increase the percentage of energy that states receive from wind. By the end of last year, six states produced 20 percent of their electricity from wind, while others, like Iowa and Kansas, have exceeded 30 percent.
This development creates new economic benefits, especially for rural communities. Landowners who host turbines receive annual land-lease payments, a reliable new source of income. Wind projects also generate new tax revenue for counties and states - an estimated $761 million each year - which helps support roads, schools, and other services while potentially removing burdens from other taxpayers. In total, the wind industry generates more than $1 billion between this new revenue and payments to landowners.
Benefits also spread into the economy with more than 500 manufacturing facilities producing parts and equipment in 42 states. The wind industry has helped to employ 114,000 Americans, including 24,000 in manufacturing and assembly.
As we look to the future of clean energy, we must continue to improve the industry. Developers should work with landowners and communities to identify and implement practices that limit impacts from construction or project operation. Benefits should continue to flow to communities that host projects - whether that be the creation of local jobs, new tax revenue, or additional income for rural families.
Wind energy has already proven to create opportunity, and rural communities can continue to reap the benefits of clean energy.
Policy associate, Center for Rural Affairs
Established in 1973, the Center for Rural Affairs is a private, non-profit organization working to strengthen small businesses, family farms and ranches, and rural communities.