Opinion

It’s American Wind Week. Let’s Celebrate.

American Wind Week is here, and it’s a great time to celebrate America’s number-one source of renewable energy.

The United States of America has some of the best wind resources in the entire world. The coasts and the nation’s heartland are often referred to as the “Saudi Arabia of wind energy.” As a result, America has emerged as a leader in this industry thanks to our world-class natural resources and our innovation in power engineering and big data.

As the United States has improved wind technology, we can harness wind energy for generations to come. Afterall, the wind is always blowing somewhere.

In fact, U.S. wind turbines are considered some of the most productive turbines in the world, even more productive than Germany and China. A modern-day turbine can power the equivalent of more than 750 American homes. With our competitive resource advantage and innovative technologies, America is leading the world in powering our lives with clean, low-cost wind power.

Wind energy is one of the cheapest source of new electric-generating capacity in many parts of the country. It has emerged as a job-creating engine in our nation. Wind energy now employs over 105,000 Americans in farming, factory and port communities across all 50 states. We’re proud to help put America back to work, and even more proud to hire our nation’s veterans at a rate 72 percent higher than the national average.

Wind turbine technician is one of the fastest-growing careers in the country. Wind turbines are made up of over 8,000 components, and a majority of these are made in one of 500 U.S. factories in the wind industry supply chain. These family-supporting careers have helped to boost the U.S. economy, too.

Ninety-nine percent of wind farms are built in rural areas, many of which are also in need of new opportunities. The influx of new investment into rural communities that are not likely to attract other business development can be a godsend. Multimillion dollar investments into a wind farm provide small towns with a new source of tax revenue, increased business for the local economy, as well as career opportunities that may help keep younger generations from moving to the city to find work.

Wind power is America’s newest cash crop, providing over $267 million a year to ranchers and farmers who lease part of their land for wind turbines. This is new, stable revenue that farmers can use to diversify their farming operation, keep the farm in the family and ride out low commodity price periods like today’s soybean market.

These dollars also benefit the local economy. A study from the University of Michigan points out that landowners with wind turbines on their property invest twice as much money into their farms than landowners who did not have this source of revenue.

Generating electricity from wind power has grown exponentially in the United States. The second quarter of 2018 saw a 75 percent increase in wind installations over last year. With 90,004 megawatts of installed wind capacity in the United States, wind power now supplies over 6 percent of our electricity. American wind turbines generate the same amount of electricity that is used by all the residential households in 13 states combined.

From sea to shining sea, wind energy helps keep our air and water clean. Unlike other electricity sources, wind farms generate electricity using virtually no water and do not emit air pollutants. Using wind power is good for our health and our families by avoiding air pollution, creating nearly $8 billion in public health savings each year. According to Electricity Markets and Policy Group, wind and solar power have avoided 8,000 mortalities and saved $60.5 billion from avoided air pollution from 2007-15.

Moreover, because wind energy does not use water to generate electricity like nuclear, natural gas and coal power plants, the wind industry saved roughly 95 billion gallons of water in 2017. That’s 290 gallons per person in the United States. At a time when parts of our country are facing wildfires and droughts, water is an increasingly precious natural resource.

Wind power is shaping a cleaner, healthier nation — and those benefits will extend for generations to come. As we celebrate American Wind Week, it’s plain to see that producing home-grown, low-cost wind energy is just smart for America.

 

Isak Kvam is communications/policy associate with Wind on the Wires.

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