The wind energy industry currently employs over 100,000 full-time-equivalent employees in a variety of capacities, including manufacturing, project development, construction, and turbine installation, operations and maintenance, transportation and logistics, and financial, legal, and consulting services. One of the fastest-growing occupations is a Wind Turbine Technician with a median salary of $51,000.
The State of Texas currently has over 12,000 wind turbines with plenty of room to grow.
Other renewable energy technologies employ even more workers. According to a report from the U.S. Department of Energy, solar power employed 43 percent of the Electric Power Generation sector’s workforce in 2016, while fossil fuels combined accounted for just 22 percent. This included people on a part-time or full-time basis, including jobs in solar installation, manufacturing, and sales.
Solar energy added 73,615 new jobs to the U.S. economy in 2016 while wind added a further 24,650.
In addition to the jobs directly created in the renewable energy industry, growth in the renewable energy industry creates positive economic “ripple” effects. For example, industries in the renewable energy supply chain will benefit, and unrelated local businesses will benefit from increased household and business incomes.
In addition to creating new jobs, increasing our use of renewable energy offers other important economic development benefits. Wind and solar power are more predictable; the prices don’t fluctuate like oil and gas. So, a municipality can sign a contract today and know what the bill is going to be for the next 25 years.
Local governments collect property and income taxes and other payments from renewable energy project owners. These revenues can help support vital public services, especially in rural communities where projects are often located. Owners of the land on which wind projects are built also often receive lease payments ranging from $3,000 to $6,000 per megawatt of installed capacity, as well as payments for power line easements and road rights-of-way. Or they may earn royalties based on the project’s annual revenues. Similarly, farmers and rural landowners can generate new sources of supplemental income by producing feedstocks for biomass power facilities.
A Union of Concerned Scientists analysis found that a 25% by 2025 national renewable electricity standard would stimulate $263.4 billion in new capital investment for renewable energy technologies, $13.5 billion in new landowner income biomass production and/or wind land lease payments, and $11.5 billion in new property tax revenue for local communities.
Renewable energy projects, therefore, keep money circulating within the local economy, and in most states, renewable electricity production would reduce the need to spend money on importing coal and natural gas from other places. Texas alone spends over 1 billion on net coal import.
In the end, renewable energy is new jobs, lower bills, and a cleaner planet.