The wind energy industry has been a big boost to communities across the country, providing a new income source to farmers and ranchers that host projects, reinvigorating small communities by providing new economic opportunities and funding for fire and police departments, schools, infrastructure, and other public services.
State renewable energy standards and the national Production Tax Credit (PTC) have been major drivers of wind energy development in the US.
Renewable energy standards require utilities to generate a certain percentage of their power from renewables, while the PTC gives project developers 2.3 cents for every kilowatt of power their projects produce.
At the end of 2013, the PTC expired, and its uncertain future has left potential projects in limbo. Threats to state renewable energy standards have had a similar effect, threatening much of the progress that the wind energy industry has made.
You may not know that 144 members of Congress recently signed letters asking fellow members to support renewal of the PTC. While national lawmakers are acknowledging the benefits of a growing wind energy industry to our economy, some states like Kansas may do away with their renewable energy standards that helped encourage its growth.
Support for wind energy has helped the industry grow, bringing new jobs and investment to our communities, and has helped the United States to become a leader in the industry.
But pulling that support now would make the future of the industry — and the jobs and revenue it has brought to small, rural communities — unclear.
Written by Lu Nelsen, guest columnist for The Bartlett Express. Nelsen writes for the Center for Rural Affairs and may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Established in 1973, the Center for Rural Affairs is a private, non-profit organization working to strengthen small businesses, family farms and ranches, and rural communities through programs addressing social, economic, and environmental issues.