Just over 6,600 megawatts of installed wind power capacity exists in the Sooner State – enough to meet about 25% of the state’s annual electricity needs – more than what coal provides. Oklahoma installed nearly 2,000 megawatts in 2016 alone. By the end of the year, Oklahoma became third in the nation for the most wind power installed.
The South’s newest wind farm, Amazon Wind Farm U.S. East, in North Carolina is a perfect example of the impact a wind farm can make on a local, rural economy. The project generated approximately 250 construction jobs and 14 permanent jobs, but these statistics just touch the surface when it comes to economic activity. The wind farm is a $400 million capital investment in Perquimans and Pasquotank Counties, and the project is expected to generate $250,000 in property tax revenues in just 2017 alone. The wind developer, Avangrid (formally Iberdrola), is now the largest taxpayer in the two counties the turbines are located in. The combination of landowner payments and local taxes add up to $1.1 million injected into the local economy a year!
This wind farm is a monumental step not just for North Carolina, but for the entire Southeast. There is only one other wind farm in the south, Invenergy’s Buffalo Mountain Wind Energy Center in Tennessee. With so few wind farms operating in the region, wind power remains a fairly unfamiliar resource. That makes it easier for anti-wind energy activists to spread misinformation and nonsense. But as people begin to see the positive effects of wind power in their community, it becomes obvious that wind power is a winner. Studies suggests that states with more wind farms boast more public support for wind energy.As more wind farms are developed throughout the South, public acceptance will continue to increase.
The new study highlights the beneficial job and economic development impacts associated with the proposed power line. According to the study, the Southern Cross Transmission project will provide significant economic benefits within Louisiana, and Mississippi, including $3.9 billion in total direct, indirect, induced and fiscal economic impact. The benefits primarily stem from construction, potential local tax revenue, and operations. Notably, the benefits from low-cost wind power associated with the transmission project were not included in the analysis, suggesting a conservative analysis.
Wind power is wildly popular. But, wind power hasn’t been as quick to catch on here in the south, so we get a lot of questions and comments about wind energy. Let’s clear the air on wind farms.
Wind resources from western Oklahoma and Texas – where the Clean Line and Pattern Energy transmission line projects will source wind – are being marketed at prices around $20-30 per MWh. That’s comparable to the price of operating a modern natural gas power plant, making wind not only cost-effective but a guaranteed low-cost electricity source for decades in the future.
The single most-significant difference came from the so-called ‘leading experts’: a hand-selected group of 22 individuals who are among the wind sector’s most knowledgeable and senior leaders. Those experts were, on average, even more optimistic about wind energy cost reduction, expecting LCOE to decline by 27% by 2030 and 48% by 2050 in the median scenario, and by 57% and 66% in the low scenario (Figure 4). The views of this group suggest even greater potential for cost reduction than noted earlier.
Thanks to NPS’s new sound level mapping, it is fairly clear that a 35 decibel sound limit isn’t just discriminatory to wind farms, it’s likely impossible to achieve under already-existing conditions in significant portions of the country. By enacting sound level regulations that are below existing, ambient sound levels, anti-wind energy activists are obviously attempting to ban wind farms.
Wind power is an American success story. Wind turbine component manufacturing or support facilities exist in all 50 states. Domestic content for wind farm projects is around 60%, meaning American jobs are helping build America’s domestic energy industry. In 2014, American companies exported about half a billion dollars worth of wind turbine components around the globe. A few major manufacturers here in the southern United States include General Electric’s turbine facility in Pensacola, Florida, Blade Dynamics in New Orleans, ZF Windpower in Georgia, PPG Industries in North Carolina, LM Blades in Little Rock, just to name a few.
Certainly some risk exists with wind turbines; however, the risk from wind farms appears to be less than being struck by lightning and certainly less dangerous than fossil fuels. Still, wind developers have a responsibility to ensure projects are built to meet or exceed safety standards and to benefit the local communities.