|Natural Resources Defense Council chart; click the image to enlarge it.|
A newly published report says that clean energy is a major source of jobs in the rural Midwest, far more so than fossil fuels jobs in most states, according to a report produced by environmental nonprofit the Natural Resources Defense Council using numbers from a research firm that collected the data for the Department of Energy’s U.S. Energy and Employment Report."
"Clean energy jobs outnumber the combined jobs in oil, gas and coal jobs in rural communities within the twelve-state region the study included, according to the study, Clean Energy Sweeps Across Rural America," Bryce Oates reports for The Daily Yonder. "Only two states, North Dakota and Kansas, have more fossil fuel workers than clean energy workers."
The growth rate of rural clean energy jobs in the region is generally also far higher than economy-wide job growth in rural areas, and slightly higher than the growth rate of clean energy jobs in urban areas, the report found. Jobs related to solar power (including installation, sales and servicing) are more than 45 percent of renewable energy jobs in the Midwest, according to the report. But wind energy is the big winner in rural clean energy jobs, with 99 percent of existing wind capacity in rural communities, Oates reports.
Not only does wind power provide jobs and power millions of homes, but it also gives rural counties a significant bump in tax revenue. Oates writes, "Farmers and landowners earn significant income from leasing land for wind farms, approximately $245 million nationally, the report says. Within the study’s 12-state region, Iowa, Illinois, and Kansas receive more than $10 million annually from wind leases. Landowners in North Dakota, Minnesota, and Indiana receive between $5 million and $10 million."
Federal programs have been instrumental in the growth of the clean energy industry, including tax credits to offset tax liabilities, grants and loans for installing clean energy projects and funding for developing and improving power lines and smart grids, Oates reports.