Wind energy development increases personal income and employment In rural areas

Arché winery in Montague County with wind farm in background. Dallas Morning News photo

Arché winery in Montague County with wind farm in background. Dallas Morning News photo


A new study by five researchers, published in the current issue of Energy Economics, found “that for each megawatt of wind capacity,a county gains half a job and just over $11,000 in total personal income.”

The Economic Impact of Wind Energy

The economists looked at wind capacity installed from 2000 to 2008 in 12 states: Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Texas, Colorado, Montana, and Wyoming. In all, the study area included 1,009 counties.

The researchers found that for every megawatt of wind power capacity installed, total county personal income increased by $11,150 over the 2000 to 2008 period.

And, for every megawatt of wind energy installed in a county, one half of a job was created.

In some rural counties employment rose 1.4%.

The new wind turbines at UNT are producing more electricity than expected. And they are not emitting any greenhouse gases or toxic emissions, nor have they contaminated any water or land.

UNT has launched a new website to track data about the wind turbines.

Together the turbines have generated 155,003 kilowatts of renewable energy since February, according to the Northern Power website.

They need a year’s worth of data before it will be useful to researchers.

NRDC has more information about wind energy and jobs.

Our research finds that just one typical wind farm of 250-MW creates 1,079 direct jobs over the lifetime of the project. Already 25 projects of similar or greater size have already been built in the U.S., and another 100 wind projects sized from 150-MW to 250-MW are in operation.

I’m pretty sure NRDC doesn’t count the new prostitute jobs or the strippers like the fracking industry does.

UPDATED to address some comments: You can learn more about wind energy from the government site, Wind Powering America. They do yearly studies and you can read the latest one here.

Basically, if we took some of the billions in corporate welfare away from the frackers and gave it to wind and solar, we could make the switch to truly clean energy much faster. Don’t let anyone from Bowie, Connecticut, Arlington, VA blow smoke up your backside.

I am the proud user of 100% wind energy.

About Sharon Wilson

Sharon Wilson is considered a leading citizen expert on the impacts of shale oil and gas extraction. She is the go-to person whether it’s top EPA officials from D.C., national and international news networks, or residents facing the shock of eminent domain and the devastating environmental effects of natural gas development in their backyards.


  1. Donna says

    Lots of problems with wind. Carbon footprint isn’t much better – lots of steel and shipping (fossil fuels and mining) and then there is the surface disturbance. Its worse than a gas well.

    Also the economics are upside down. Wind producers pay the grid to take the power at night when it blows so they can collect the gov subsidy. This negative pricing crowds out baseload power and makes our electric bill higher.

    I am for alternative energy but the gov has picked a loser. Nat gas will bridge the gap until we have a real market based solution.

  2. Donna says

    Wouldn’t pass judgement until you had the facts. We have two wells on our family cattle ranch near Bowie. And mineral rights were severed so im not getting rich. What i can tell you is they built 3 new gates, improved my roads, built a pond,paid for water, and gave us about 4k worth of steel my husband used to repair our barn.

    I can also tell you each well will produce 3-6 x the energy of one wind mill. And i dont have to see/hear it. Oh and i dont smell any bad smells or see any pollution.

    • says

      So you have been exceedingly lucky, so far. I hope your luck holds out as the wells age because leaks increase as the casing deteriorates and the equipment wears out. I hope they don’t have to put a compressor station on your property.

      But what about those of us who haven’t been so lucky? Is it just tough luck for us? Are we supposed to bear the financial loss from damaged property and health? Are you okay with certain people making enormous sacrifices for the greater good? What if that becomes you some day? What happens when water gets so scarce the choice is fracking or growing food? Oh never mind, we are already faced with that choice.

  3. Donna says

    Fracking or growing food? That’s a false choice. I’m just saying wind mills aren’t the answer for the reasons i put forth. Listen I’m opposed to harming the environment, i’m just think we need to do an honest cost-benefit. Dont throw your weight blindly behind windmills because Sierra Club says so. They engage in the same pay-for-play politics that the oil companies do. Wind mills arent any better for the environment. From experience i csn tell you they are worse!

    • says

      It’s so interesting to me that you say you are from Bowie yet your IP address says Connecticut.

      No, actually it’s not a false choice. Farmers in south TX had to plow under crops recently because of restrictions on irrigating and many of them cancelled their fall crops. That was reported in the news statewide so I’m surprised that someone living in Bowie, TX, a largely agricultural area wouldn’t know that. I could certainly put you in touch with some of your neighbors who see things quite differently.

      I would love to see your documentation that windmills are actually worse for the environment than fracking. That would be quite eye-opening.

    • Fracking Crazy says

      Apparently we there are still people living under rocks, who don’t pay attention to the news:

      Oil and Gas are over bidding Agriculture for water,

      so the farmers and ranchers don’t have water.

  4. Donna says

    Haha! I can’t visit mya kids because i live on a ranch in Clay county? What are you trying say? Seems like your trying to discredit me because you don’t agree. Nice tactic – you borrow that from the oil companies? A false choice because its not either/or. If you’ve ever been to s. Texas you’d know it is always dry. If you’ve ever planted crops you’d know they need rain. I’m more worried sbout ethanol policy that’s where corn goes first in this country. Im just saying wind mills take alot of steel and alot of land. Do the math and dont be a hypocrite. Open your eyes and free your mind from the propaganda comin from both sides!

    • says

      Oh. Okay then Donna. I totally trust you and I’m sure what you are saying it from your heart and not talking points from the gas industry.

    • Anonymous says

      Oh Donna, you poor uninformed person! You ought to come to Booger County and “enjoy” property near many stinking sour gas wells, a stinking gas processing plant and a couple of noisy emission emiting compressor stations!!! Then you can speak with experience!

  5. Fracking Crazy says

    And if I were making wind turbines, I would be using recycled steel from scrap yards.

    And to have a wind farm, it’s your choice. To breath your neighbors gas wells, and compressor stations, you don’t.

    From my experiences, I can honestly say, I would rather die an acute death of flying into a wind turbine,


    dying a slow painful death or having unexplained twitches and muscle spasms like the birds who have been exposed to gas wells.

    After all that, I can say, it made me roll my eyes.

    I’m proud to be on wind too. I just can’t say 100%; it’s 90%.

    Wind makes so much power, they have to shut the turbines down.

    If I had an electric car, I could run my car on wind power too!!

    As a high tax paying American, I can honestly say I would much rather have my money going to Wind Turbines and Solar Arrays subsidies than Oil and Gas.

    It’s a much better investment.

    It’s my choice and it’s my vote.

    ‘Nuff said.

  6. Anonanon says

  7. Leonard Huff says

    Hi Sharon,

    I have been a little busy at work and I have not have a chance to read your blog until today.

    Dove season start Friday and I have a few hunters coming down to hunt Doves on the family place(90 Hunters). This is my (3) season and I am slowly learning how to deal with it. There is always a learning curve involue in anything that a person does. Life is funny.

    If a person can not learn from the mistakes that one makes and laugh about it, then the mission or project becomes work instead of something of labor of love.

    I belive in Windfarms because South Texas has Four Now in operation and their is one company that is planning to put in(150 Windmills) around the area that I live in. Go figure.

    The U.S. Goverment sent Neil Armstrong ect. al to the moon and landed. The people came back home to earth and talked about it.

    We can do anthing if will decide to do the right thing.

    Hang in there.

    Life does have it rewards.

    Have a Nice Day!

    • says

      Good point about the space travels.

      90 hunters all at once? That I would never get used to. Sounds dangerous so be careful and don’t get Cheneyed.

      • says

        It is typically more exnepsive for you to designate “green” power. It is a method to subsidize the building of more wind power, but in reality wind power is not any more “green” than nuclear power. The intermittent nature of wind power makes it necessary to have some sort of “backup” power, usually gas, wind uses much more concrete and steel than nuclear power for the same amount of megawatts. Wind power actually has a larger “footprint” than nuclear power, it takes more land to produce the same amount of power. We need to explore all the methods of producing power while minimizing the effect on the environment, this is one way of donating to that cause and voting with your $$.