Indiana's Power Sector is On the Rise
The U.S. is transitioning away from fossil fuels and embracing the great benefits of renewable energy. Wind and solar energy are reliably powering homes across the Midwest at record low prices, and investment and jobs are booming. For the Hoosier state, renewables are contributing a massive $5 billion to the economy.
Ranking 13th in the country for installed wind capacity, Indiana has an impressive 2,317 megawatts (MW) on line. That’s enough wind to power nearly 569,400 homes. There are 232 MW under construction and another 900 MW in advanced development. State and local taxes contribute $12 million into the coffers every year. Additionally, annual land lease payments of $20 million are being paid to rural landowners. The state’s 15 manufacturing facilities provide direct wind jobs while making products for the wind industry.
The benefits of renewables are more than economic. Indiana’s power sector has benefitted its natural surroundings. Wind power generation creates no emissions and uses virtually no water. Wind in the state saved 2.2 billion gallons of water and avoided 3.8 million metric tons of CO2 — the equivalent of taking 800,000 cars off the road.
Indiana’s solar sector is just getting started, but big things are on the horizon. Currently, it only ranks 23rd in the nation for installed solar energy with 444 MW. However, Indiana is projected to add over 1,300 MW over the next five years. Solar prices have dropped 88 percent since 2009, making it one of the cheapest sources of electricity. Indiana’s solar industry employs 3,600 people through its 81 solar companies, including 22 manufacturers, 32 installers and developers and 27 other related companies. The solar industry has invested over $600 million in the state, and this is likely to increase as capacity grows.
Ratepayers will continue to benefit from low-cost clean energy as the state welcomes more clean energy projects. New job opportunities will emerge in high and low-populated areas, and businesses will continue to grow. According to Clean Jobs Midwest, Indiana had nearly 87,000 clean energy jobs prior to COVID-19. These jobs are located across the state, with more than 18 percent located in rural areas at the end of 2019. Renewable energy is the second largest clean energy employer in Indiana, with 10,975 workers.
As America’s energy sector transitions to a clean energy economy, states are implementing new strategies so that everyone can access these resources. States are also setting carbon-reduction goals. Indiana is uniquely located to provide renewable energy into PJM and MISO and to meet state renewable energy goals of neighboring states. Renewable energy accounted for over 6 percent of the state’s electricity in 2018, most of which is attributed to wind.
As the state decarbonizes and Hoosiers reap the benefits of clean energy, Indiana’s power sector is reaching new heights. CGA is very active in the state of Indiana, advocating for the increased use of utility-scale wind, solar and battery resources through utility Integrated Resource Plans (IRPs) and through legislation. These efforts will increase clean energy output, power more homes at a low price and create more economic opportunity – and that’s just smart!