Wind energy gaining traction, U.S. trade group says

Because of its prevalence in rural areas, the American Wind Energy Association says wind is a "cash crop."
By Daniel J. Graeber  |  March 7, 2017 at 6:37 AM
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March 7 (UPI) -- Wind energy in the United States is making a case for itself as a cheap source of energy that steers revenue to rural America, an industry trade group said.

Federal data show five state -- Iowa, Kansas, Oklahoma, North Dakota and South Dakota -- each sourced more than 20 percent of their electricity from wind power last year to lead the nation.

"Wind is now cheaply and reliably supplying more than 20 percent of the electricity in five states and is a testament to American leadership and innovation," Tom Kiernan, the CEO of the American Wind Energy Association, said in a statement.

For the entire United States, wind energy supplied 5.5 percent of the total electricity last year, up from the 4.7 percent recorded in 2015. Investments, meanwhile, totaled $13.8 billion and the AWEA said some of that revenue was spilling over to rural communities, where farmers can lease part of their land to host wind turbines while still cropping underneath.

According to the trade group, wind energy is "a new cash crop," with lease payments totaling $245 million last year.

For the broader economy, AWEA joined other renewable energy trade groups in touting the job potential from the low-carbon sector. Wind energy supports tens of thousands of jobs in nearly every U.S. state, with most of that employment showing up in manufacturing.

According to the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics, wind-turbine technician is the fastest-growing job description in the country.

The advancement comes as President Donald Trump boasted of the economic gains from the oil and gas industry. Borrowing from a statement Monday from Exxon Mobil, the White House said a plan from the supermajor to invest $20 billion in offshore expansions was a "true American success story."

Exxon's investment is part of a plan that began in 2013.

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