Get the Facts: Wind Power Is for Everyone

Wind energy receives overwhelming support from Americans, with approval ratings consistently in the 70-80 percent range. Still, the topic of wind power occasionally is the subject of debate. One fact, though, is indisputable: wind power is good for America’s economy. It creates jobs and fuels economic development. That’s one of the biggest reasons I’m so proud to be a part of this exciting industry. I’ve seen the evidence firsthand.

Approximately 73,000 people now work in the US wind industry, according to the American Wind Energy Association’s most recent Annual Market Report. What’s all the more exciting is that many of these jobs are in a sector that up until recently has been associated with job losses—manufacturing. Of the 73,000 American wind power jobs, nearly 20,000 are in the manufacturing sector. Another fact that many Americans probably don’t know: More than 500 US factories serve the industry.[1]

As a project developer, I’m proud to know that when we build a wind farm, an entire US-based manufacturing supply chain kicks into gear. That’s because a typical wind turbine installed in the US today includes mostly US-manufactured content.[2] The increase is part of the industry’s relentless drive to increase efficiencies. Locating manufacturing plants domestically, where the wind development is happening, makes good business sense for transportation, logistics, and other reasons.

Wind’s economic power does not stop with manufacturing. In fact, the breadth of economic impact of our industry is something that has always struck me. Aside from the impact on American factories, I’ve seen firsthand how wind energy infuses local, often rural, communities with much-needed economic activity. The industry delivers at least $195 million[3] in lease payments every year to local landowners—oftentimes farmers, who receive stable income to supplement revenue from a profession that’s part of the American fabric yet is also notorious for its unpredictability.

When a wind farm gets built, local communities also receive property tax payments and experience increased local spending (which also results in associated tax revenue). It’s inspiring to see the impact firsthand. Comments from members of the local communities stick with me, and make me realize what an honor it is to be a part of this industry. A video our company produced about an OwnEnergy project in Windthorst, Texas captures some of those comments. Farmer Lloyd Wolf, for instance, speaks of how his farm has been in the family since his father bought it in the 1930s, and how he proudly hosts some of the wind turbines on his land. The town itself, meanwhile, has felt the impact as well.

“They’ve hired a lot of local people, the wind farms have,” said “Big Rusty,” proprietor of Big Rusty’s Barbeque in Windthorst. “They come in, they eat here, they eat down the street.”

So when I look at the industry numbers—the 73,000 jobs, the $195 million in lease payments, and so forth—I feel personally charged about the direct impact of our company’s projects.  With its community partners, OwnEnergy has completed seven mid-size wind farms totaling 289 MW, which translates to approximately 880 construction jobs and about 12 permanent ones.[4] 

These are facts we’re excited about—and I’ve not even begun to mention the 751,400 tons of carbon dioxide our projects offset annually (this calculation is based on 1MW of wind offsetting approximately 2600 tons of  carbon dioxide). No wonder wind power is an industry that receives bipartisan support. In fact, more than 70 percent of Republican Congressional districts are home to either wind component manufacturing or wind farm operations.  These jobs aren’t red or blue; they’re red, white and blue.

Wind opponents may offer any number of reasons that a given project should not be built, but typically their beliefs are based on misinformation. Regardless, they can’t deny the facts of wind: job creation, clean air, economic development and a brighter future.  And regardless of who supports wind and who doesn’t, we all get to reap the environmental and economic benefits. As I’ve seen so many times in the communities hosting our projects, wind is for everyone.

 

 

[1] U.S. Wind Indusry Annual Market Report Year Ending 2014, American Wind Energy Association

[2] U.S. Department of Energy 2013 Wind Technologies Market Report

[3] U.S. Wind Indusry Annual Market Report Year Ending 2014, American Wind Energy Association

[4] The numbers are based off of reports ran from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory Jedi Wind Model

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Jacob Susman is the Founder & CEO of OwnEnergy, a Brooklyn based mid-sized wind development company and has been building businesses, investing, and developing projects in renewable energy since 1999. Jacob has led OwnEnergy since its inception, including recruiting and managing its industry-leading team, raising capital, establishing a nationwide brand, sourcing new business, developing projects building customer relationships and generating revenue. Currently, Jacob plays a critical role in overseeing OwnEnergy’s day-to-day operations, while fostering its close-knit culture and directing its long-term vision and strategy. He also manages key customer, supplier and capital-provider relationships.Jacob is an active member of the Board of the American Wind Energy Association and is active in a range of national wind industry and policy initiatives. In 2010, Jacob was named to Crain’s New York ’40 Under 40’, and in 2012, he was named an E&Y Entrepreneur Of The Year Finalist. In 2013, Greentech Media named Jacob one of New York’s Top 10 Cleantech Leaders.Before founding OwnEnergy, Jacob was a founding member of Goldman Sachs' Alternative Energy Investing group, where he was involved in Goldman's investment in Horizon Wind Energy and co-led a portfolio financing that was named Project Finance’s N.A. Renewable Energy Deal of the Year. Prior to that he served as Project Manager for the AES Corporation, working on a team that developed one of the largest power plants in Spain—named European IPP of the Year by Euromoney. Jacob holds an MBA from The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. An avid skier, he lives with his wife, Jodi, and two daughters in Brooklyn, New York.

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