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 wind energy resources.
That's according to the latest report from a series of state-specific studies from the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) and the Wind Energy Foundation (WEF). The new report, titled ‘A wind vision for new growth in Michigan,’ incorporates data from calculations made using the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) 2015 Wind Vision report.
AWEA and WEF co-hosted a roundtable discussion Thursday to highlight the new findings at Michigan's Macomb Community College, where students are learning skills to work in the renewable energy industry.
"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 percent 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 the new report, wind can supply enough electricity for over 710,000 homes in Michigan. 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, the report adds.
John Kostyack, executive director of WEF, said, "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."
In addition to revealing potential benefits laid out in the DOE's Wind Vision study, the new report highlights several successful case studies of wind power in the state, including the following:
- Ventower, a wind turbine manufacturer based in Monroe and founded in 2008, 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, created $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.
- Overall, up to 4,000 jobs are supported by wind power today in Michigan, including manufacturing jobs at 33 factories producing wind power parts and supplies around the state. The report says 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.