September 11, 2017 Read More →

Op-Ed: Wind Industry Lifts South Dakota

Watertown Public Opinion:

There are few greater economic development opportunities in rural America right now than wind power.

Across the country, wind farms are providing a stable source of new revenue for farmers and ranchers, without disturbing their existing operations. These projects inject private capital into rural communities and produce new, family-supporting jobs where they are needed most.

This growth occurring in South Dakota is because our region’s electricity providers recognize the benefits that wind energy can have for their customers. Not only is wind a low-cost, reliable source of electricity, it provides a hedge against the volatility of other fuel costs, such as natural gas or coal.

Local landowners are also benefiting. Existing S.D. wind projects pay millions annually in land lease payments to rural landowners and millions more to locals, which helps fund vital services, support road improvements, and keep a lid on property taxes. Best of all, as wind energy grows in the state, so too will the money flowing to rural communities. Nationwide, rural landowners receive over $245 million annually from existing wind farms.

The benefits of South Dakota’s wind boom don’t end at the project site. The wind industry relies on domestic manufacturing and over 25,000 Americans work to manufacture components for wind turbines.

The added income, additional revenue, and new jobs are not coming at the expense of taxpayers, as Johnson asserts. While all forms of domestic energy production receive some form of government incentive, the wind industry has historically received far less than other sources. In fact, less than 3 percent of all federal energy incentives from 1947 to 2015 have gone to wind energy.

It’s also important to understand that the primary federal incentive for wind development, the Production Tax Credit, only pays for power produced and is working as intended by helping spur wind development and lower energy costs. Indeed, the value of this tax credit flows directly through to ratepayers. Moreover, the credit has succeeded in driving the innovation and growth needed to push the cost of wind power down 66 percent since 2009. As a result, the wind industry agreed to support a phasedown of the incentive at the end of 2015 and the PTC is now set to completely phase out by the end of 2019.

More: Wind energy good for the state and the nation

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