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How do wind and solar projects benefit farmers and rural communities?

Wind and solar energy preserve the wide open spaces of rural America, affords long-term protection to farmland and agriculture, and boosts the economy in small towns and rural communities.


Once a turbine or solar panel gets the green light, this creates hundreds of new jobs across a multitude of industries to build it from the ground up. In the Midwest, one in five clean energy jobs (158,000) are located in rural areas. At the end of 2020, the clean power sector had a workforce of 415,000 Americans.  When projects are complete, wind and solar projects become a new town employer, creating full-time jobs for technicians, site managers and office staff.

The Rocky Mountain Institute reports about 54 GW of wind and solar projects that are slated to come online in 2030 will employ 40,000 workers during the construction phase, and deliver $2.3 billion in annual wages, and $3.7 billion in annual wages for 38,000 workers in operations and maintenance (O&M) positions that support new and existing wind and solar capacity.


Since 2005, $334 billion in project investments have been made according to the American Clean Power Association 2020 Annual Market Report. ACPA reports that in 2020, clean power projects brought in $39 billion in new investment, an estimated $1.7 billion in state and local taxes, and and nearly $800 million in land lease payments were made to landowners across the nation.


Midwestern counties use wind and solar production tax revenue for improvements to infrastructure, schools, and funding for projects that benefit the surrounding community – including lowering the county tax levy.


Farmers and other rural landowners hosting clean power projects on their land receive an extra source of income through annual land lease payments. In 2020, landowners received $1.3 billion in lease payments, and these numbers are increasing as more development is in the works.


Renewable energy developments also attract both temporary and permanent members of the community, which is great news for the local economy. Local businesses, such as hotels, gas stations and restaurants see extra cash flowing into their businesses from construction workers looking for accommodations and frequenting their establishments during the building phase. Building and construction supply companies also benefit from this development. When the project is complete, full-time employees move into the community, eat at local restaurants, purchase real estate, shop at the grocery store and enroll their children in the public schools. And, the projects often establish ongoing relationships with local businesses, like service stations and hardware stores, to service equipment and purchase supplies.

Visit our Blog for several articles on how renewable energy benefits rural America.