It’s American Wind Week and from farm to factory there are many ways wind powers opportunity.
Over 114,000 Americans work in wind, many in the more than 500 U.S. factories that make everything from blades, towers, and turbine nacelles to raw components such as fiberglass and steel. South Dakota has eight active manufacturing facilities that support the wind industry.
American wind energy also brings substantial new revenue to rural communities through property, state, and local taxes. Nationwide, wind pays over $1 billion in state and local taxes and landowner lease payments every year. That helps fund school investments, road repairs, and upgrades to emergency services.
Although agriculture is South Dakota’s top industry, the state’s growing wind development has made it the newest member of the “Gigawatt Club” with 1,019 megawatts (1 gigawatt) of installed wind power. Last year, wind provided 24.4 percent of all of South Dakota’s electricity production, putting the state in 5th place in the nation for its share of electricity coming from wind.
In South Dakota, the wind industry provides more than 2,000 jobs. With a capital investment of $2.2 billion and more than 600 turbines up and running, wind generates not only power but $6 million in state and local tax payments and another $1-$5 million in annual land lease payments.
Wind power will continue to grow because it is renewable, emission-free and increasingly cost-competitive. Technological advances have helped drive down costs. As a result, wind’s costs have fallen by 69 percent since 2009, making it the cheapest source of new electricity in many parts of the country.
Wind powers more than our homes and businesses — it powers opportunity.