OP-ED: Wind Powers Opportunity in North Dakota

Source: By Jeff Danielson, American Wind Energy Association • Posted: Wednesday, August 14, 2019

This American Wind Week we’re celebrating the ways wind powers opportunity in all 50 states, including North Dakota, by creating jobs, investing billions of dollars in rural communities & providing support for schools, public safety & quality of life investments.

North Dakota is a national leader in wind energy, generating about 26% percent of its electricity from wind, the fourth highest in the USA! It now has over 3,000 MW of wind power and ranks 10th in the nation for installed capacity. Today, there are nearly 4,000 jobs related to wind in North Dakota as the result of $6.1 billion in wind investments. Additionally, North Dakota receives about $9.5 million in annual state and local tax payments, along with annual lease payments to ranchers and farmers totaling nearly $10 million dollars.

Wind powers next-generation manufacturing jobs as well. Over 500 U.S. factories build wind turbine parts, and the LM Windpower plant in Grand Forks a shining example. That factory is one of Grand Forks’ largest employers and provides wind-powered careers for hundreds of workers. Wind is powering jobs creation in the rural parts of North Dakota too. Wind turbine technician is America’s second fastest growing job, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. These are jobs in rural towns and offer young people rewarding careers without having to leave home. And schools like Lake Region State in Devils Lake are training the next generation of wind technicians, with sky-high placement rates for graduates. It’s not uncommon for a student to receive his or her diploma on a Friday and start the first day of work at a new job on Monday.

Many of these workers are veterans, where they find jobs in the wind industry at a rate 67 percent higher than the U.S. average for all industries. The skills, teamwork and knowledge they acquired while serving in the military make veterans ideal candidates for wind-powered careers, and are one of the success stories of the American wind industry.

Wind power is poised to grow even more because it is renewable, clean and cost-competitive. Technology improvements have allowed turbines to harness stronger, steadier winds, and decades of experience in sitting wind turbines to maximize output, have helped drive down costs. As a result, wind’s costs have fallen by 69 percent since 2009, making it the cheapest source of new electricity in many parts of the country.

North Dakota has abundant natural resources and wind is no exception. The future for the North Dakota wind industry is bright because leaders have supported pro-growth wind policies and that’s why we’re proud to celebrate the successes of the wind industry during American Wind Week. We look forward to North Dakota’s continued leadership in wind energy, which will provide benefits to farms, families and taxpayers for years to come.

Jeff Danielson, Central States Director, American Wind Energy Association