Opportunity knocks for increased growth in area wind production

Guest editorial

In November community and industry leaders gathered in Slayton to celebrate the contributions that wind energy has made to southwest Minnesota.

As the representative of the state’s wind industry, I couldn’t have been happier to deliver a ceremonial “big check” in the amount of $7,224,246, which was paid out earlier this year, based on production in 2014. (Rock County received $896,430 this year from the 2014 production.)

Communities in southwest Minnesota use this revenue to pay for highway upgrades, update infrastructure and keep property taxes low.

The best news it that this development is far from over — our member companies continue to see tremendous potential to invest in the region, helping take advantage of the excellent wind resource and export the region’s “wind crop” to neighboring areas, just as farmers export corn and beans.

Minnesota currently supplies 15.9 percent of our electricity needs with 3,039 MW of installed wind capacity, which has invested $5.6 billion into our economy, supplied 1,700 Minnesotans with jobs, and helped support 125 wind-related businesses. And we believe these numbers will only continue to grow.

The Department of Energy released its Wind Vision report earlier this year, and it projects that wind power can supply 10 percent of America’s electricity by 2020, 20 percent by 2030, and 35 percent by 2050.

Opportunity is knocking on our door. Minnesota is currently using only 1 percent of our wind potential; we have a massive amount of room for growth — and that’s good news for wind developers, construction companies, and rural Minnesota communities who can all benefit from low-cost clean energy, jobs and the economic development that wind provides.

Let’s make that big check even bigger next year by investing in the wind crop that is blowing across our state.

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