Illinois’ 25 largest wind farms have supported 20,173 jobs during construction and will add $6.4 billion to local economies over their 25-year life spans, according to findings from a new study released by Illinois State University’s Center for Renewable Energy.
The center’s report says these 25 largest wind farms support about 869 permanent jobs, including 226 direct jobs in rural areas. In addition, the wind farms generate $30.4 million in annual property taxes for local communities and $13.86 million in extra income for landowners who lease their land to developers, according to the report.
“Wind energy has played an increasingly important part in the state’s energy mix – resulting in numerous economic development benefits,” says David Loomis, director of the center. “Decision-makers need to be well informed about these benefits so that they consider all of the factors when deciding on future wind projects.”
Citing U.S. Department of Energy statistics, the center says that by 2050, Illinois could become the second-largest wind state in the country (behind Texas). Illinois is currently fifth – ranked behind Texas, Iowa, California and Oklahoma.
In order to move up to the No. 2 spot, says the university, Illinois would need to add about 10 times its current wind capacity – which could result in approximately 10 times the number of created jobs.
In the state, McLean County leads with 546 MW of wind power, accounting for 15.1% of all installed capacity. LaSalle and Lee counties are next, with 9.8% and 9.7%, respectively.
The report notes that Illinois built two new wind farms in 2015 after two years of not building any; several new wind farms were permitted in 2015 and are starting construction this year.
“State energy policy will be key to Illinois’ wind energy future,” continues Loomis. “Current legislative proposals could fix the state’s renewable portfolio standard and increase the percentage of our electricity coming from renewable energy.”
Illinois State University’s full report can be found here.