A new economic impact study has found wind power provided an employment boom and is set to add billions in revenue for the state of Illinois’ coffers.
The study, released by Illinois State University’s (ISU) Centre for Renewable Energy, reveals that Illinois’ 25 largest wind farms supported over 20,000 construction and manufacturing jobs and will contribute USD $6.4 billion toward local economies over the 25-year life of the projects.
Each year these wind farms support 869 permanent jobs with 226 direct jobs in rural Illinois. The state reaps $30.4 million in annual property taxes for local communities, and landowners who lease their properties to wind developers earn a total of $13.86 million in extra income.
According to a Department of Energy Wind Vision Report, wind capacity in Illinois has expanded rapidly; rising from 50 MW in 2003 to nearly 4,000 MW in 2016 – thanks largely to positive state and federal policies supporting the sector.
The study points out once such policy was the passage of the Illinois Power Agency Act in 2007 that included a Renewable Portfolio Standard of 25 percent by 2025, of which 75 percent of the renewable energy must come from wind.
Texas dominates the leaderboard for installed wind capacity in the U.S. with a total of 17,711 MW. Illinois (3,842) currently ranks fifth, behind Iowa (6,364 MW), California (5,662 MW), and Oklahoma (5,453 MW).
But while Illinois may lag behind its neighbours right now, it is projected to become the second-largest wind-generating state in the USA after Texas by 2050. This is due to a large extent to the ever-growing demand for energy from the Eastern United States. Illinois is situated in an ideal geographical position to supply low-cost wind power than other states further west.
If the projections contained in the report are borne out, Illinois could potentially see a five times increase in capacity from 2020 to 2030 and then a doubling of capacity from 2030 to 2050.
Centre director and study author David Loomis said the report would give future policymakers food for thought.
“Wind energy has played an increasingly important part in the state’s energy mix resulting in numerous economic development benefits,” he said. “Decision-makers need to be well-informed about these benefits so that they consider all of the factors when deciding on future wind projects.”
The full report can be viewed here (PDF).