Wind benefits reverberate throughout the economy

On day six of my Colorado wind power tour it was all about the supply chain, and it was eye-opening how far the economic benefits of wind go.

Most people know about the largest wind companies, like Siemens and General Electric. And we’ve been telling the story about wind turbine technician being the fastest growing job in America.

However, many of the 73,000 jobs that wind supports are in the supply chain. Companies that make ladders and doors for wind turbines, or the safety equipment wind techs use every day.

We’ve visited with suppliers in Colorado over the last couple of days. Often, they’re small businesses with only a dozen or so employees. Some are manufacturers that provide jobs for as many as 150 people. When you add them all up, suddenly you’re looking at tens of thousands of Americans whose livelihoods depend on wind power.

These businesses are often a part of the story that gets overlooked, because it’s easy to just think of the big brand names, but that doesn’t mean they’re any less important. In some ways, they may be even more critical, because the many members of the supply chain help spread jobs throughout the state as opposed to having massive employments centers in just one geographic location. Supply chain employees then go on to buy houses, go to the movies, eat out and perform all of the other factors that drive our economy.

When you try to trace the economic effects of wind power, it almost feels impossible to measure them completely.

For example, our team visited a supply chain company called Aluwind this week. They manufacture over 300 components that companies like Vestas, Siemens, General Electric and others use in their wind turbines. At any time, Aluwind employs as many as 50 people.

While we were touring Aluwind’s facility, we also learned they sell aluminum scraps to a scrap metal yard. They hire truck to transport their products, and they buy thousands of wooden pallets. These are just a handful of ways that Aluwind drives economic development extending even further than its spot in the supply chain, and this sort of activity provides livelihoods for countless more Americans.

I came away from today’s discussions awed at how many people benefit economically from the construction of the turbines I saw this past weekend. It’s proof that wind power is an important component of the American economy.