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Frequently Asked Questions

Wind Energy and the Economy

It makes sense that clean, renewable wind energy is good for the environment — but did you know that it's also great for the economy? Click on the links to learn more!

How is wind energy good for the economy?

Wind energy benefits the economy in three ways: 

  • Windparks bring economic development to the rural communities that host them.
  • Developing our nation's wind energy resources creates demands for turbines and turbine components, which stimulates the manufacturing sector.
  • Wind energy helps to stabilize wholesale electricity costs, which is good for both consumers and for businesses (for more info, go to "Wind Energy and our Nation's Energy Mix"). 

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How does wind energy benefit rural economies?

Windparks benefit rural economies in three ways:

  • Windparks create hundreds of jobs during the construction phase, as well as well-paying operations and maintenance jobs once the windpark is operational.
  • Tax revenue from the windpark flows to the schools, town, and county.
  • Easement payments to land owners can provide a significant second income without disrupting existing land use (farming, ranching, etc.).

Click on the image to see Windpowering America's presentation

"Wind Energy for Rural Economic Development".

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What kind of jobs do windparks create?

Developing, constructing and operating a windpark requires coordinating the efforts of many different teams and individuals. Each of the three stages involve different steps:

During the pre-development and development phase, jobs created include:

  • Project developers
  • Field engineers
  • Environmental managers and consultants
  • Legal and permitting support
  • Community outreach
  • Document control
  • Administrative and office support

During the construction phase, jobs created include all of the above, plus:

  • Numerous construction-related positions
  • Transportation managers
  • Contract and sub-contract managers
  • Project controls engineers
  • QA/QC technicians
  • Safety technicians

Once a windpark is operational, jobs created include:

  • Project managers
  • Project coordinators
  • Production managers
  • Wind turbine technicians
  • Wind turbine maintenance
  • Administrative and office support

Noble is committed to hiring qualified personnel from the local community whenever possible. 

Click here to go to our Careers page!

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How much economic development do windparks bring to the local community?

The exact amount will vary from state to state and town to town, but a good rule of thumb is at least $1 million per megawatt over a twenty year period. For example, Noble's three Clinton County, New York windparks (located in the towns of Altona, Clinton, and Ellenburg) total 280 megawatts, and are expected bring about $360,000,000 to the local community over the next 20 years. 

The local economic development benefits of windparks can be calculated using the Jobs and Economic Development Impact (JEDI) model developed by the U.S. DOE's National Renewable Energy Lab.

<-- Click on the image to see a larger version of a one-page handout about the JEDI model.

NREL also produced an Analysis of Economic Impacts of Wind Applications in Rural Communities.

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Wind energy keeps more of your energy dollars local!

When you pay for electricity, you are paying for many things — the cost to build and operate the power plant, the cost of maintaining the electrical grid, and so on. When electricity is produced using fossil or nuclear fuels, the single biggest cost built into your electricity bill is the cost of the fuel needed to run the power plant. For most of us, that fuel came from another state, or even another country.

Click on the image to see a larger version.

Wind energy is different. The wind is free, so there's no need to purchase fuel. At the same time, windparks create more local economic development than any other type of electrical generation. What this means is that as more of the electricity in your local mix is produced from wind energy, less of your money is leaving your area — instead, it's recirculating into the local economy. Wind energy is a resource that rural communities can harness for "export" to urban areas, helping to balance out disparities in economic development between the two regions.

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Does wind energy present an opportunity for the U.S. manufacturing sector?

Yes. Wind turbines utilize relatively simple technology, but each turbine requires thousands of parts.  Furthermore, turbine parts (tower sections, nacelles, and blades) are so large that it's expensive to ship them long distances over land, and to import them from overseas. Industry experts agree that the U.S. could become a major manufacturer of wind turbines and their components, but to make this a reality, the U.S. must make a strong, long-term policy commitment to using more renewable energy — this will give companies that make turbines the confidence in the market they need to invest capital in establishing production facilities in the U.S.

 

The Renewable Energy Policy Project paper titled "Wind Turbine Development: Location of Manufacturing Activity" looks at how many states already benefit from turbine-related manufacturing activitiy, and analyzes how many states more states have the potential to benefit. 

 

 

Windpowering America's presentation "The $$ and Sense of Wind Energy" looks at all the economic impacts of wind, including the estimated hundreds of thousands of manufacturing jobs that would be created nationwide as a result of getting to 20% wind energy by 2030 (currently, the U.S. gets less than 1% of its electricity from the wind).

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