Development of wind projects means good jobs

To the editor:

From Aug. 6-12, the American Wind Energy Association is celebrating American Wind Week. I’m happy to support wind energy because it is American energy, it creates American jobs, and helps keep our air and water clean.

The wind industry has invested more into the American economy than the annual revenue of the National Football League. The development of wind projects also means jobs. Good jobs. A modern wind turbine creates 44 years of full-time employment over its lifetime. The industry expects to create 50,000 more U.S. wind jobs by 2020, including 8,000 more factory jobs.

In Minnesota, wind-related jobs are found from corner to corner. The Port of Duluth expertly handles wind turbine component shipments, our railroads and specialized trucking companies transport parts across the nation. And, steel from our Iron Range is used to manufacture towers in Wisconsin.

In the Twin Cities, jobs in the wind energy sector include legal, engineering, manufacturing, and construction. In fact, Minnesota is the headquarters for the top two wind and solar construction companies in the country. But, rural communities have much to gain from welcoming a wind project into their community, too. And the benefits don’t flow solely to the landowners that host turbines on their property.

Wind development projects inject millions into the local economy, as they use local restaurants, grocery stores, hotels, hardware stores, service stations, building and construction supply companies, print shops, and other services. This economic activity helps keep families in our communities, too.

Wind projects also help keep money in our pocket. On average, Minnesota’s energy bills are $20 cheaper than the national average, and utilities like Xcel Energy say the addition of low-cost wind energy is an important strategy for keeping costs low and protecting consumers from price spikes.

At the county level, wind production revenue is used for tax relief, paying off debt, repairing roads and building public infrastructure, which benefits everyone. Statewide, wind farms paid more than $12 million to 24 counties that host wind farms in 2016. In Jackson County, wind revenue was used toward a $14 million public works facility without costing taxpayers a dime. Wind revenue also prevented a 14.5 percent increase in property taxes in the county.

Here in Minnesota, we’re blessed with outstanding natural resources. Wind energy is opportunity knocking for rural communities. We should support this development because we’re playing an important part in increasing our national security while simultaneously creating jobs, improving our economy and caring for our environment.

My family and I moved here to the beautiful state of Minnesota in 2007 because of my experience in wind energy and the potential for our future.

My children attended school in Minnesota, and we bought and remodeled a home here. We are grateful for my job and the opportunities and benefits that we have.

Chris and Paula Thomas

Hadley/Lake Wilson