Wind power puts more dollars in rural county residents’ pockets

A first-of-its kind government economic-impact study showed that wind power installations in 130 U.S. counties accounted for an aggregate increase in county-level personal income of $11,000 and employment of 0.5 jobs per megawatt.

The study, conducted by a team of researchers from the Economic Research Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), considered the sample period of 2000-2008 and examined economic impacts in nearly 130 individual counties in 12 generally wind-rich states.

The study, “The Impact of Wind Development on County-Level Income and Employment: A Review of Methods and an Empirical Analysis,” is published in the journal Energy Economics and is available for a fee.  The study is also summarized in a fact sheet from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE).

Up until this point, wind power economic impact projections have been largely based on projections. Notably, however, the study’s findings suggest that such models as JEDI [Jobs and Economic Development Impact Wind Model, previously developed by NREL] “appear to be reasonably accurate in their estimation of impacts,” according to the DOE fact sheet.

By Carl Levesque,