Report: 23 Largest Wind Farms In Illinois Bring $6 Billion In Economic Benefits To The State

By Matt Kasper

Mitt Romney’s campaign says the candidate supports ending the production tax credit for wind — even while supporting billions in tax credits for the Big Five oil companies. Some are now wondering if Romney’s stance on wind will hurt him in the Midwest, where the technology has has such a positive economic impact.

A new report released by the Center for Renewable Energy at Illinois State University (ISU) shows why wind is so important to America’s heartland.

The report looked at the 23 largest wind farms in Illinois, finding that they will add almost $6 billion to local economies over their lifetimes and have resulted in the creation of more than 19,000 jobs during the construction periods. The projects will also support 814 permanent jobs in the state.

The report’s authors conclude that these benefits would not be possible without consistent federal and state policy:

A number of factors have caused the rapid growth of wind power capacity in the United States in recent years including federal and state policies… In particular, federal renewable energy production tax credits (PTC) along with state renewable electricity standards (RES) have been the biggest drivers.

The economic analysis details how wind farms benefit landowners, local governments, and school districts.

Dr. Larry Dodds, Superintendent of Ridgeview School District in McLean County, IL, said while the state government had to cut the school district’s budget by almost $750,000 over three years, the wind farms have significantly contributed to the county’s $1.8 million FY2011 tax revenue.

This economic analysis shows once again why Congress needs to extend the Production Tax Credit (PTC) due to expire at the end of the year.

Wind energy has been increasing in Illinois and across the country. According to the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA), 35 percent of all new U.S. power capacity in the past five years has been from wind power — bringing $20 billion in annual private investment. Yet, Congress is set to let the PTC expire and possibly kill up to 37,000 jobs.

The uncertainty around the PTC is already causing turmoil within the wind industry. Last week, General Electric – the largest U.S. producer of wind turbines – blamed a decrease in sales this past quarter on Congress’ inability to extend the PTC. And the world’s largest producer of wind turbines, Vestas, says it may lay off 1,600 American workers if the credit is not extended.

Matt Kasper is a Special Assistant for Energy Policy at the Center for American Progress.

11 Responses to Report: 23 Largest Wind Farms In Illinois Bring $6 Billion In Economic Benefits To The State

  1. malcreado says:

    Yup, money they arent taxing me. Hard to see why some politicians are against that. With the tax credit ending I have seen a lot more windmills out on the interstate going to their destination. Big rush to get them up in time.

    With the drought this year at least the farmers with windmills will get some income.

  2. Leif says:

    Rather than the state tax payer footing the bill for Production Tax Credits, even though those are a great investment, the production credit should be coming from a tariff on the fossil fuel industry. In fact I would go one step further and set up a unemployment/retirement account for those 19,000 temporary workers as well. Even a fraction of a cent/$ on fossil income would go a long way covering retraining laid off coal workers, and transition costs.

    Much more effort should be reported on the value of the production credit. Hell why not a fund for each American to help them invest in the Green Awakening Economy and when all have access, continued as a social service buffer to lower taxes. All from the energy of the SUN. Mankind can now make transistors far cheaper than staples. We must learn to gather the copious green energy from the sun and put it to work for humanity rather than fret about that energy overheating the earth’s life support systems to ecocide. A high cost of energy only makes my Solar PV that much more valuable. BRING IT ON…

  3. PAUL DONOHUE says:

    I can’t understand why so many Republicans are against wind. It is a no brainer: no fuel or water, just pure energy. Now water is becoming a concern for power plants:

    As an aside, I was wondering why there are no wind mills with the turbine on the ground?
    I would think it would be cheaper and maybe allow bigger turbines.

  4. Leif says:

    Mostly a gearing problem I believe. Energy loss, alignment, shaft bearings and pitch control for the prop for starters. The gen set windings are a small part of the equation.

  5. SecularAnimist says:

    Paul Donohue wrote: “I can’t understand why so many Republicans are against wind”

    Because the Koch Brothers pay them to be against wind, that’s why. It really is as simple as that.

    Paul Donohue wrote: “It is a no brainer: no fuel or water, just pure energy.”

    It is certainly a no-brainer for the fossil fuel corporations, whose entire business model consists of SELLING FUEL, to realize that technologies that can harvest abundant free energy from the sun and wind ELIMINATE THE NEED FOR FUEL, and thus, will put them out of business.

    Which is, of course, exactly why they are paying politicians to destroy the wind and solar industries.

  6. catman306 says:

    Here’s some optimistic writing:
    (Leif, as of yesterday, was available.)

  7. Because oil and coal must be constantly replenished with another sale of a product. Wind and solar, once set up do not require more sales. Same with electricity when you think about it. That is why electric power plants prefer big systems with wires to the home – they keep selling electricity. Otherwise small wind and solar power in the home – work just as well, but would cut out the big boys.

  8. Jan says:

    This is the kind of GOP hypocrisy that should be shouted from the rooftops. Jobs, jobs, jobs to them mean oil subsidies.

  9. Dr.A.Jagadeesh says:

    Great news for Wind Energy Enthusiasts and supporters.
    Dr.A.Jagadeesh Nellore(AP),India
    Wind Energy Expert

  10. Ted Davis says:

    Leif…You hit it right..Shaft work and gearing are the big problem here. Paul does have a pretty valid question though. Kind of what I thought a few years back but after some number knocking and equation kicking, it would be a vibration nightmare for starters. Maybe some day, who knows. Peace.

  11. Richard says:

    windpower is indeed a no brainer but the right wing has already been purchased by the fossil fuel gods