What if I told you orders for your business were up 40 percent over this time last year?
Would you feel optimistic? Excited? Ready to grow your workforce? Because that’s the case for American wind power.
“We’ve got over a quarter of a billion dollars going into the pockets of landowners, and let me tell you, that is a big deal,” said Kansas rancher Pete Ferrell. “The wind farm on my ranch has made my family, my land and my community more resilient, and I’m grateful for that.”
Benefits like these flow to Mr. Ferrell and millions of Americans just like him because U.S. wind turbines are №1 in world productivity, among countries with the most wind energy. Because of U.S. innovation, a typical 2-megawatt wind turbine in the U.S. powers an average of 510 homes — nearly twice as many as turbines in China or Germany.
Our research team just finished crunching the second quarter numbers, and nearly 26,000 megawatts (MW) of new wind power are either under construction or in advanced development. To put that into context, the U.S. currently has a total installed capacity of 84,000 MW, enough to power 25 million homes.
So with a development pipeline this large, clean, affordable, reliable wind energy will soon power many more American families and businesses.
Where are we building these projects? All across America’s Heartland.
Nearly 80 percent of new wind farms under development are found in the Midwest, Texas and Mountain West. That creates job and new opportunities for communities across the region.
Take Kansas, which just became the fifth state to surpass 5,000 MW, enough to power 1.5 million homes. That has created almost 6,000 in-state jobs, many at factories like the Siemens blade plant in Hutchinson. And it has created a drought-proof cash crop for Kansas farmers and ranchers, who receive up to $15 million in lease payments every year for hosting turbines — income they can count on rain or shine.
Gov. Sam Brownback has recognized what a big deal wind power has been for his state:
“In my first State of the State speech in January of 2011, I said that Kansas was already known as the Wheat State and the Sunflower State, but that I wanted Kansas to also be known as the Renewables State,” he said. “Here’s to the next 5,000 megawatts of wind energy capacity in Kansas and the jobs, businesses and private capital it brings to all parts of our great State.”
New kinds of customers drive much of this development. The second quarter saw first-of-their-kind wind deals from a grocery producer (General Mills), a telecommunications firm (T-Mobile) and an investment bank (Goldman Sachs). They have joined dozens of other businesses buying wind for its low cost and stable prices.
Meeting the demands of these companies and other customers, and getting all of these new wind farms built, means we’ll need to grow our 100,000-strong wind power workforce. That’s why we could add another 50,000 wind jobs by 2020, including 8,000 factory jobs.
To celebrate all of this good news, we’re launching the inaugural #AmericanWindWeek August 6–12. We want to take a moment to recognize U.S. wind power leadership — modern wind energy was born in America, and we lead the world in tapping into this everlasting resource.
All week long, we’ll highlight this American success story at wind farm open houses, charity events and on social media, culminating at the Fowler Wind Fair in Fowler, Indiana. Fowler is a perfect example of how wind brings new opportunity to rural America.
Join the conversation on social media using #AmericanWindWeek, and help us celebrate America’s spot atop the leader board.
Tom Kiernan is CEO of the American Wind Energy Association.
This post originally appeared on Medium on August 2, 2017.