It’s day two of American Clean Power Week! Today, we are highlighting how the clean energy industry is building the future of the American workforce and helping communities grow. From creating great-paying jobs to providing extra sources of income to landowners, critical tax revenue, and emissions-free power, America’s clean energy industry is investing billions in local economies and delivering clean, affordable energy to communities across the country.
The clean power industry already employs as many people as the natural gas and coal industries combined, and the recently passed Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) will double the size of the clean energy workforce by 2030. Currently, wind turbine technicians and solar installers are two of the top five fastest-growing jobs in the United States. What’s more, these well-paid jobs ensure that workers are able to support themselves and their families, with clean energy workers making 30% more than the national median wage.
In a changing world, the clean energy industry is building the next generation of American manufacturing jobs and providing opportunities for workers to use skills they have previously developed. The range of opportunities in clean power is vast – with energy storage companies offering positions in advanced manufacturing, engineering and construction, and more than 74 different occupations needed to build an offshore wind farm. This diverse and growing industry also helps revitalize former industrial towns and bring manufacturing jobs back to American communities. For example, solar industry manufacturing helped re-open a decommissioned steel mill in Pennsylvania, while a new offshore-wind manufacturing plant in New Jersey will create approximately 500 jobs in an area where a local refinery recently cut hundreds of jobs.
Clean power projects also provide states and localities with critical revenue that helps bridge budget shortfalls and allows communities the ability to plan and invest in their future. Wind, solar, and energy storage projects have raised an estimated $1.3 billion in tax revenues that can be invested back into the local communities – boosting funding to repair roads, invest in schools, and support essential services.
For example, ACP member company National Grid Renewables’ Prairie Wolf Solar Project in Illinois delivers critical investments into the Kansas, Illinois School District that helps the area schools purchase new textbooks, update curriculum, and provide building upgrades. This summer, the company held a Stuff-The-Bus event that brought in donations and raised awareness of the Prairie Wolf Education Fund, which is funded by National Grid Renewables and is estimated to contribute $720,000 over the next 20 years to the local Kansas School District.
Clean energy projects also bring significant financial benefits to landowners across the United States, especially in rural communities. Wind and solar projects pay an estimated $1.4 billion annually in land-lease payments to farmers, ranchers, and private landowners for hosting turbines and solar panels on their land – serving as a drought-proof cash crop that provides a stable income. Speaking of cash crops – over the next decade, revenue from solar and wind is likely to surpass revenue from corn or soy.
Aside from direct investment, clean energy projects provide numerous financial benefits to communities across the country. Wind projects – 99% of which are located in rural communities – raise local incomes, local GDP, and home values, with multiple installations and greater capacity leading to higher economic benefits, according to a recent study. Clean energy also saves families and businesses money by reducing electricity costs during periods of high demand through energy storage and preventing costly power outages through enhanced grid resilience and back-up power.
With stable, long-term policies in place like those in the Inflation Reduction Act, clean power will continue to deliver critical investments and economic benefits to communities across America and build a clean energy economy for all.