The Great Lakes region has a tremendous opportunity to install both onshore and offshore wind energy. In my home state of Illinois, we have 3,334.91 MW of installed capacity in projects that are larger than 50MW with another 3,000 MW already permitted. This ranks Illinois as the fourth largest wind state in the nation. Minnesota ranks seventh and Indiana ranks 13th. Michigan added 611 MW in 2012 putting it in the state leaders for new capacity additions.
The primary benefit of these new wind farms are the renewable energy that they produce while benefiting the environment relative to other forms of electricity generation. But there is a secondary economic development aspect to these wind farms. According to an analysis done by the Center for Renewable Energy at Illinois State University, the 23 largest wind farms in Illinois (3,334.91 MW) supported:
- Approximately 19,047 full-time equivalent jobs during construction periods with a total payroll of over $1.1 billion
- Approximately 814 permanent jobs in rural Illinois areas with a total annual payroll of nearly $48 million
- Local economies by generating $28.5 million in annual property taxes
- $13 million annually in extra income for Illinois landowners who lease their land to the wind farm developer
- Will generate a total economic benefit of $5.98 billion over the life of the projects
Similarly, offshore wind in the Great Lakes has great potential to support jobs and economic development in the region. According to a recent analysis that I did for the Great Lakes Wind Collaborative, cumulative installed capacity additions by 2030 of offshore wind in the Great Lakes of 1,000 MW, 2,000 MW, or 5,000 MW could support approximately 12,500 construction jobs, 31,000 construction jobs, and 122,000 construction jobs respectively. In addition, these scenarios would support 750-3,900 ongoing jobs during operations.
If you would like to help bring more wind energy and more jobs to the Great Lake Region, consider joining the Transmission and Economic Development Workgroup. I am the Chair of the workgroup and I am interested in hearing your ideas of what we can do together.
Professor of Economics, Illinois State UniversityDirector, Center for Renewable Energy