This is an excerpt from the Fourth Quarter 2012 edition of the Wind Program Newsletter.

Wind Development Found to Increase County-Level Personal Income

A black and white map of the United States. Twelve of the states in the central portion of the nation have been colored in beige to show 12-state study region and within those states, different shades of blue represent county-level wind power capacity. If you have a disability and need assistance reading this image, please email the Webmaster. Enlarge image

Total installed county-level wind power capacity from 2000 to 2008 in the 12-state study area.
Illustration by Jason Brown, USDA-ERS

The U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE's) Lawrence Berkley National Laboratory and National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) joined forces with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to complete a first-of-its-kind study that quantifies the impact of wind energy development on county-level employment and personal income in the rural areas of the Great Plains and Rocky Mountain regions. Although past studies have provided notable insights into the potential economic impacts of wind energy development at state and local levels, much of this work was based on input-output models such as NREL's Jobs and Economic Development Impacts model and hypothetical or proposed projects and spending patterns.

The DOE-USDA study examined data from actual wind installations across nearly 130 counties and 12 states between 2000 and 2008. Findings from the study indicated that, on average, wind energy development in this region and timeframe increased county-level annual personal income by approximately $11,000 and employment by 0.5 jobs per megawatt of installed capacity. Although the study does not provide a comprehensive economic analysis, it provides an empirical assessment of county-level economic development impacts while avoiding many of the potential weaknesses apparent in other methods. Researchers also compared their results with seven independent analyses that used input-output models to examine more than 20 individual scenarios and found that input-output models can be reasonable.

To read more about the study see The Impact of Wind Development on County-Level Income and Employment: A Review of Methods and an Empirical Analysis.

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