|  Jul 17, 2012

Wind Farms Mean $6 Billion to Illinois Economy

12,000 Illinois jobs at stake unless Congress extends wind tax credit

NORMAL, IL (July 17, 2012) - Illinois wind farms will bring nearly $6 billion to the state's economy over the lifetime of the projects, including over 19,000 new construction, maintenance and manufacturing jobs, says a new research report entitled, "Economic Impact: Wind Energy in Illinois," released Tuesday by the Center for Renewable Energy at Illinois State University.

The study demonstrates the economic growth that wind energy brings to Illinois communities, and is another reason for the state's Congressional delegation to support an immediate extension of the wind energy production tax credit (PTC).

"Strong clean energy policy combined with the PTC has helped fuel the growth of more than 10,000 megawatts of wind power in the Midwest ISO in the last decade. We would like to see that continue to grow and provide the economic benefit described in this report to the entire nation," said Beth Soholt, Executive Director of Wind on the Wires.

"It's important that decision-makers are educated about the significant economic development wind energy brings to state and local communities so that informed decisions regarding future adoption of wind energy projects can be made," said Dr. David Loomis, Director of Illinois State's Center for Renewable Energy.

Among the key results, the study finds that the 3,334 megawatts of installed wind generation in Illinois:

  • Will generate a total economic benefit of $5.98 billion over the projects' 25-year lifespan
  • Provide $28.5 million in annual property taxes
  • Generates $13.05 million in annual lease payments to landowners
  • Created approximately 19,047 full-time equivalent jobs during construction
  • Supports approximately 814 permanent jobs in rural Illinois, with annual payrolls over $48 million
  • Planned wind farm projects statewide would mean an additional 12,700 jobs and millions more to local economies through payments to landowners and property tax revenue. But, those projects are on hold because of uncertainty about the extension of a federal tax break for wind energy developers, which is slated to expire at the end of this year.

The Sierra Club's Illinois chapter celebrated the study, saying it proves that wind energy is a viable economic engine for Illinois communities, while also providing environmental benefit to the state.

Illinois Sierra Club Director Jack Darin said, "Congress can protect Illinois jobs and public health by supporting the PTC and helping the country transition to clean energy. We need all the members of Illinois' congressional delegation to support the PTC, and do their part to keep Illinois' clean energy economy growing."

Labor groups similarly cheered the news, reiterating the fact that wind energy has become a major source of construction jobs for rural Illinois in recent years.

"Wind energy is critical to economic recovery. For laborers, wind farms have meant jobs a worker can be proud of, and they provide family-sustaining wages. Laborers are proud to not only be building these wind towers, but building a sustainable future for our nation," said Michael Matejka, governmental affairs director for the Great Plains Laborers District Council.

In fact, Illinois is a national leader in wind turbine manufacturing as well, boasting 28 manufacturing facilities that make components for the wind industry. Failure to pass the PTC puts these important manufacturing jobs on the line.

A representative of the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) agreed, saying this study brings the impact of wind energy home for Illinois lawmakers.

Larry Flowers of AWEA said, "This report again shows Illinois representatives and Senators why the PTC is vital for Illinois and the nation. We call on Congress to pass the PTC now to prevent the catastrophic job losses that will come with a lapse in this successful policy."

The PTC has seen strong bi-partisan support for several years, Flowers added, saying that Congress should put aside their differences and pass this policy mechanism as soon as possible.

The PTC provides a tax credit of 2.2 cents per kilowatt-hour of generated electricity for wind developers, which translates to lower delivered cost of the resource. Since the PTC was enacted seven years ago, wind power capacity has increased by 47,000 megawatts, a seven-fold increase.

The Production Tax Credit for wind has been in place since 2005 and has led to 47 GW of new wind capacity, equal to about 94 coal plants, spurring nearly $70 billion in private investment, according to AWEA.

Largely owing to the PTC, wind energy accounted for 35% of new electrical generation capacity installed in the past four years, and now supplies 20% of electricity needs in states like Iowa and South Dakota. The wind energy industry supplies close to 3% of electricity nationwide and is on track to generate 20% of all of America's electricity by the year 2030, as projected by the George W. Bush administration.

The new research is the latest update to an economic impact analysis the Center for Renewable Energy has performed annually since 2009, and was released at a press conference Tuesday morning at the 6th annual "Advancing Wind Energy in Illinois" Conference in Normal, Ill.

# # #

About Wind on the Wires
Wind on the Wires is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization based in St. Paul, Minn., which is comprised of wind developers, environmental organizations, tribal representatives, public interest groups, clean energy advocates, farm groups and businesses providing goods and services to the wind industry. Our mission is to overcome the barriers to bringing wind energy to market by addressing technical and regulatory issues, as well as through education and public outreach.