First American Wind Week celebrates U.S. leadership

Aug. 7-12 marked the first American Wind Week, when businesses, schools and communities celebrated America’s global leadership in wind power.

As part of American Wind Week, our companies —  Blattner Energy and Anderson Trucking Service — were excited to host a group of state and local lawmakers at the Blattner offices in Avon to share the success story that is wind energy in Minnesota and beyond. Our companies are privileged to be recognized as leaders in the thriving U.S. wind sector.

Nationwide, wind jobs grew at a rate nine times faster than the overall economy last year, and, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, wind turbine technician is the fastest-growing job in the country.

This industry already employs over 100,000 Americans, but analysts project the wind sector will create an additional 50,000 jobs by 2020. These jobs are here to stay, too. Each modern wind turbine creates 44 years of full-time employment over its lifetime, and each day American workers put up an average of 10 new turbines somewhere in the United States.

The rapid growth in this technology is providing more than just jobs. Wind projects across the country are delivering cleaner, more reliable and more affordable electricity to homes and businesses and injecting hundreds of millions of dollars into rural communities through new tax revenues and leasing payments to farmers.

We see these benefits here in Minnesota. Today, there are over 3,000 Minnesotans who work in our industry, and wind farm owners have paid over $12 million to local governments in 2017. This revenue helps rural communities pay for road upgrades, provide vital services to residents and hold the line on property taxes.

Wind power now supplies nearly 20 percent of our state’s electricity. Although we don’t see quite as many wind turbines spinning in our region as there are in southern Minnesota, the wind energy industry is providing a host of economic benefits right here in Central Minnesota.

As the U.S. wind industry has grown over the past decade, so too have our companies.

Blattner, celebrating its 110-year anniversary this year, employs 4,000, and in the corporate office in Avon, there are nearly 200 full-time employees.

ATS has more than 3,000 employees and independent contractors in the US and Canada, with more than 200 of them engaged in roles supporting ATS wind energy projects across the country and around the world.

There is a large job demand in the wind industry and a stable future for a wide range of job opportunities and advancement we don’t see slowing down any time soon.

Both companies also have an inherent responsibility to give back to the communities they live and work in.

Blattner takes pride in giving back to their communities, and one of the more recent charitable donations was a $5 million donation to the Albany Area Schools expansion of school and new community center. On an annual basis the company also supports a food drive to area food shelves in the spring and a toy and clothing drive during the holidays.

ATS also supports the greater St Cloud community through significant contributions to educational and community service organizations. The most recent example of this includes the planned CentraCare Survivor Center at the CentraCare Plaza.

The positive impact ATS and Blattner have on their communities, job opportunities and economic benefits in Central Minnesota are in part thanks to the leading stance the U.S. has taken on wind energy.

Blattner Energy and ATS are proud of America’s leadership in wind power — the largest source of renewable energy capacity in the country. We are also proud to call Central Minnesota home.

This is opinion of Scott Blattner and Rollie Anderson submitted as part of the first American Wind Week.