New report: Over $3.59 billion in savings possible on Michigan electric bills by growing wind energy

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Wind energy’s costs have dropped by 66% in just the last six years, meaning states like Michigan can gain in clean energy with the right policies.

Michigan households and business owners can keep more money in their pockets, and rural Michigan landowners will receive millions of dollars more a year in land lease payments, by building new wind farms that tap into more of the state’s low-cost wind energy resources.

That’s according to a new report, “A wind vision for new growth in Michigan,” released by the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) and the Wind Energy Foundation (WEF).

The two organizations recently co-hosted a roundtable discussion to highlight the new findings at Macomb Community College, where students are learning skills that will obtain good-paying jobs in the renewable energy industry across the region.

The data come from calculations made using the U.S. Department of Energy’s new 2015 report Wind Vision: A new era for wind power in the United States.

“With stable policy we can grow wind energy and we can save Michigan homeowners and businesses over $3.59 billion dollars,” said Tom Kiernan, CEO of AWEA. “Because of American ingenuity, wind energy’s costs have dropped by 66% in just the last six years and by continuing to invest in wind over a billion dollars in savings can be passed onto consumers in Michigan and across the Great Lakes region.”

According to Wind Vision wind energy can more than double from supplying the U.S. with over four percent of the country’s electricity today to 10% by 2020, 20% by 2030 and become a leading source of electricity in the U.S. by 2050 at 35%.

Wind can supply enough electricity for over 710,000 homes in Michigan according to the new data.  Added economic benefits for the Great Lakes State can grow to over $11.6 million dollars in added annual property tax revenue and Michigan landowners would be paid by wind farm owners an additional $7.6 million in lease payments a year by 2030.

“Michigan’s previous renewable energy policies have put the state on a path for success,” said Beth Soholt, Executive Director of Wind on the Wires. “Public policies that encourage the development of more wind energy are a win-win. Local economies will grow from the jobs and economic development that come from new wind energy projects, and consumers will benefit from the clean, renewable, and low-cost energy wind can provide.”

Across the country, over 380,000 well-paying jobs can be created by wind meeting the 2030 scenario, up from 73,000 full-time jobs today. That includes supporting 142,000 manufacturing jobs by 2030, up from around the nearly 20,000 wind manufacturing jobs today.

“Keeping the air and water resources clean in the Great Lakes region now, and for future generations, is what is at stake here,” said John Kostyack, Executive Director of WEF. “We can do that and save consumers money by tapping into more of Michigan’s low-cost wind energy resource. This report tells a story that’s being repeated in states all across the country – how both our environment and our local economies improve when we develop Made-in-America wind energy.”

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) issued its final ruling of the Clean Power Plan earlier this summer, it is the nation’s first ever rule to limit carbon pollution from existing power plants. Wind energy can help the state avoid over 9.6 million tons in carbon pollution a year by 2030 according to the new data, equaling more two million cars’ worth of avoided carbon emissions every year.

Studies consistently show wind energy as having the largest role in cost-effectively meeting Clean Power Plan. Wind energy already supplies Iowa, South Dakota, and Kansas with more than 20% of their electricity. Wind supplies more than 12% percent for nine states. Wind can reliably supply much higher amounts of electricity according to a report by the utility consultant The Brattle Group which found wind supplied at times as much as 40% on the main Texas grid earlier this year and 60% on the main utility system in Colorado.

In addition to revealing many of the enormous benefits laid out in the DOE’s Wind Vision report, A wind vision for new growth in Michigan highlights several successful case studies of wind power in the state:

  • Ventower, based in Monroe and founded in 2008, the wind turbine manufacturer recently expanded its workforce by adding 51 new employees over the past year. Ventower recently supplied all 62 towers at the Consumers Energy Crosswinds Energy Park project in Tuscola County.
  • The Gratiot Wind Farm, which created 200 full-time jobs during construction and 17 full-time permanent workers. $30 million in direct payments to Michigan contractors during construction.
  • EDF Renewables Services, Inc. employs 25 full-time O&M workers, all of whom live in-state and many of which were trained at local community colleges and technical schools.

Up to 4,000 jobs are supported by wind power today in Michigan, including well-paying manufacturing jobs at 33 factories producing wind power parts and supplies around the state. Wind energy has already attracted $2.9 billion in capital investment to Michigan and rural landowners currently receive $4.6 million a year in land lease payments.

A March 2015 Gallup poll found 84% of American voters want the U.S. to put more emphasis or the same emphasis on producing domestic energy from wind. The majority of Republicans and Independents wanted more emphasis.

AWEA
www.awea.org

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