Minnesota could generate at least 3,000 jobs by catering to industries involved in making and installing wind towers likely to result from the state’s ambitious renewable energy standard, advocates said Wednesday
Minnesota 2020, an organization that promotes wind, said the state’s
renewable energy standard – which obligates utilities to derive at
least 25 percent of their power from renewable sources by 2025 – can be
an economic engine.
The group estimates 3,000 to 5,000 jobs could
be created from attracting companies that make components for wind
turbines or that erect them on the massive wind farms that are dotting
Wind-related industries could also pump $8 billion
into Minnesota’s economy over the next 20 years, according to the
analysis by Minnesota 2020, a “think tank” based in St. Paul.
think my estimate is conservative,” said Nathan Paine, a research
fellow with the organization, who used economic models developed by
University of Minnesota economists.
Minnesota has a good base to
build upon when it comes to developing industries involved in wind
power, said Joe Sheeran, a Minnesota 2020 spokesman.
ranks fourth in terms of its installed wind-energy capacity, about
1,800 megawatts, or enough to power 450,000 homes, according to
Minnesota 2020’s figures.
Also, the state has a highly skilled
work force, including in welding and manufacturing, that could be put
to work building components for wind turbines, Sheeran said.
Minnesota already produces parts for wind towers, including turbines, housings for the gearboxes and bolts for the towers.
severe recession has taken a toll on jobs in Minnesota, which has shed
35,000 or more positions in the past year, Sheeran said.
state and federal subsidies, including the production tax credit, make
wind power economically viable, renewable energy sources will become
more affordable if fossil fuels are subject to a carbon tax, he said.
Mayor Mark Voxland said the city is working toward the goal of
installing a third municipal wind turbine. The two towers, becalmed in
the gentle breeze Wednesday morning, were visible in the background as
the wind proponents spoke.
“We’ll use as much as we can,” the
mayor said, noting that every kilowatt generated by wind turbines means
the city’s customers don’t have to buy power elsewhere. More than half
of Moorhead’s electricity comes from hydropower, but that does not
count as a renewable source, he said.
As utilities scramble to
meet the 25 percent renewable energy standard by 2025, more wind farms
will be needed to meet the demand.
“I’d like to see a lot of these projects built in Minnesota,” Paine said.