matter what time of year it is, rural communities continue to thrive thanks to
renewable energy. As a cash crop that brings a flow of benefits to the
landowners and rural communities alike, wind energy has helped revitalize
agriculture, schools and small businesses across the Midwest. By the end of the
decade, the U.S. wind industry was bringing annual earnings of $1.6 billion to America’s heartland, giving communities plenty
to be excited about.
Usually, the word “tax” makes us roll our eyes. But that’s certainly not
the case in the wind industry. In 2018, a report
by Moody’s Investors Service stated that wind farms have improved
finances in more than 400 counties in 41 states nationwide. The American
Wind Energy Association reports that wind power
supplied $912 million
in state and local taxes in 2019, a 68 percent increase from 2018.
Minnesota Wins With Wind
Wind Energy Production Taxes are one way communities can benefit from a
wind farm. Minnesota’s model of taxation is based on the production capacity of each
wind farm. The revenue generated from this tax is collected by the state then
all or a percentage is given back to host communities. Eighty percent of the Wind Energy Tax revenue goes to the
county and 20 percent goes to the cities or towns that host wind farms.
Counties and towns then have the ability to choose how they use this money. The revenue from wind projects has been a great
resource for local communities in need of assets to fill budget gaps.
Mower County, Minnesota, has been
utilizing its revenue for improving roads, as well as building renovations and
the local fairgrounds. Ranking number one in the state for wind energy
production, the county has received over $19 million from wind tax revenue since
2004. In 2019, Mower County wind energy generated $2 million of tax revenue.
The remainder was put into a general fund that is used to reduce the county tax
levy. In 2019, wind energy lowered Mower County’s tax levy by 2.85 percent!
Schools in Minnesota are also one of the greatest beneficiaries of wind energy tax revenue. The extra income from
wind projects allows educators to invest in the futures of their students. Many
school districts put money into areas that were never an option before, such as
buying new computers, updating their athletic facilities or offering
Wind Provides Jobs and
Economic Development for America
continue to reap the benefits of homegrown renewable energy. It takes less than
one acre to host a wind project, leaving room for farmers to produce a variety
of goods and continue other operations. However, wind energy offers a
one-of-a-kind monetary opportunity to landowners that they wouldn’t find
anywhere else. Through landowner lease payments, owners are compensated for
leasing their land for wind projects for the entirety of a turbine’s lifespan.
This not only helps farmers provide a stable income for their families, but it
also gives them the chance to make improvements to their homes, outbuildings,
drainage and irrigation systems, as well as invest in new equipment. Landowners
received $706 million in lease payments in 2019 alone.
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are perhaps the most important economic asset in the country, and wind energy
has provided a new land of opportunity in rural areas. Over 99 percent of
operating wind capacity is located outside city limits, and these projects need
all-hands-on-deck to get them up and running. According to AWEA, wind energy has created more than 70,000 jobs since 2013.
Today, wind directly employs over 120,000 workers in all 50 states. In fact,
wind turbine technician is the second-fastest growing job in the country. In
2018, the average pay for wind turbine technicians was more than $54,000/year. Other direct wind jobs can be found in fields
such as engineering, finance, and construction. The demand for wind power also
creates opportunities in the supply chain, such as transportation and shipping.
The nation’s manufacturing facilities support 22 percent of the industry’s
workforce, with over 26,000 workers. After the project is built, full-time
positions in management and office staff are also needed to keep things running
the last 10 years, wind energy has powered more than 32 million homes. From job
opportunities and revenue to keeping the family farm afloat, wind has brought
new life into the rural communities that host them. With a projected 44
gigawatts (GW) in the pipeline for 2020, wind will power another 15 million
homes, energize the country’s workforce and create more financial stability in
rural areas – and that’s just smart!