A 41 percent spike in sales tax revenue. A $1 billion investment in the community. And clean, homegrown power for some 425,000 Colorado homes.
That’s what wind power is providing in Logan County, Colo., home of NextEra Energy’s Peetz Table Wind Energy Center, and the subject of the latest segment of WindTV, the American Wind Energy Association’s (AWEA) vehicle to highlight how wind works for America. The 41 percent revenue increase came in 2007, when wind power arrived in the county, and it wasn’t just a one-year anomaly. Since then, “We have not seen any drop in sales tax revenue because of the great things that are happening in the community,” says Jim Neblett of the county’s planning commission. “It’s been a great economic boon.”
Today about 500 wind turbines are erected, with a total of 850 permitted. At least seven wind energy industry companies are operating in the county.
In addition to the $1 billion investment, Neblett explains on the video, wind industry companies “also helped other smaller communities with different things, like a town center, and a new fire station, museums, and they help out at the rodeo every year.”
Unfortunately, the wind power industry’s ability to drive that sort of economic activity is under threat. The federal wind energy Production Tax Credit (PTC), wind power’s primary policy driver, is set to expire at the end of the year, and already the industry’s supply chain is feeling the effects of the uncertainty.
A recent study found that extending the PTC will allow the industry to grow to 100,000 jobs in just four years, while an expiration will kill 37,000 jobs. Wind powers as many as 6,000 Colorado jobs and 20 wind power manufacturing facilities across the state. As exemplified by Logan County, wind farm plants in Colorado provide a second cash crop to the state’s farmers and a vital source of support for rural communities in the form of approximately $5.4 million a year in land lease payments and more than $10 million in annual property tax payments. In another video segment, in fact, Neblett discusses the tremendous revenue boost wind power has given local farmers.
“As WindTV has shown in full-color over the last few months, the wind power economic success story of Logan County, Colo., is one that is known in communities all across America,” said AWEA CEO Denise Bode. “But policies created in Washington, D.C. must be in sync with everyday Americans, and, at the moment, they are not. The time is now for Congress to act and extend the PTC so that the wind energy industry can help build many more strong, economically vibrant communities like Logan County.”
In the video segment, Neblett—sporting a propeller cap that celebrates Colorado wind power—is speaking from the bustling show floor at the WINDPOWER 2011 Conference & Exhibition, which took place in Anaheim, Calif. In another segment shot at the same time, Neblett, a veteran of four WINDPOWERs, discusses how he has been able to accomplish business objectives at the event over the years, even luring companies to his county. WINDPOWER 2012 will take place in Atlanta, Ga., June 3-6. For more information, go to www.windpowerexpo.org.
WindTV is a showcase of video profiles of Americans whose lives have been positively impacted by the wind energy industry. The site, located at www.awea.org/windtv, features a different video profile each week.
To hear more about Logan County’s experience with wind power, and how wind works for America, go to WindTV.
By Carl Levesque, AWEA Editor & Publications Manager, www.awea.org/blog/