U.S. Global Leader in Wind Production

Wind supports hundreds of well-paying jobs in Montana

By Tom Darin

Wind energy is one of the biggest, fastest, cheapest ways to cut carbon pollution and costs while growing Montana’s economy, despite Public Service Commissioner Roger Koopman’s claims (Jan. 20 Beacon: “Federally Imposed Renewables Come at a Cost.”)

For 100 years, taxpayers have paid over $500 billion to subsidize conventional fuels. Many of these incentives are permanent, creating an uneven playing field for renewables, which don’t receive this generous treatment.

Wind’s performance-based federal tax incentive helped make the U.S. a global leader in wind production, with enough wind energy generated annually for 19 million homes. Along with American innovation, this cut costs 66 percent over six years.

Those savings are now passed on to all Americans. Over time, they will increase because wind power has no fuel price volatility. Data from the U.S. Department of Energy prove this true: wind power investments can yield over $650 million in potential savings through 2050 for Montanans. Credible studies from investment firm Lazard, the Energy Information Administration and the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory show that wind’s low prices won’t climb.

Wind increases utility system reliability. Conventional power plants can shut down suddenly, but changes in wind fleet aggregate output occur gradually and predictably. Wind supplies nearly 30 percent of Iowa’s electricity and over 20 percent in Kansas and South Dakota. At one point in November wind met over 66 percent of electricity demand on Colorado’s main grid.

Wind supports hundreds of well-paying jobs in Montana while paying landowners $2 million annually for hosting turbines, a number that could grow to over $10 million by 2030.

Tom Darin
senior director, western state policy
American Wind Energy Association