Wind power brings new-found income to local businesses
Rural Nebraska town gets 35 percent business up-tick
Kimball is a small town at the western end of Nebraska and “very few people know we’re out here,” as Mayor James Schnell puts it. But a new resident has come to town—wind power—and it’s generating some real economic noise.
Wind power’s economic impact on Kimball is featured on the latest installment of WindTV, the American Wind Energy Association’s (AWEA) recently launched vehicle to highlight how wind works for America. While several WindTV segments have focused on jobs and career opportunities created by wind power as well as the tax revenue it provides to local communities, this week’s video offers a look at the economic ripple effect of the industry’s presence in a rural area. Wind farms in the Kimball area attract workers, who in turn spend money in town—at restaurants, grocery stores, auto shops, and so forth.
The result: “The majority of us business owners have been given at least a 35 percent increase in revenues that we would not have seen this year,” Schnell says.
Jobs held by those wind power workers who spend money in small towns across America, however, are in jeopardy without stable tax policy for the wind energy industry. The federal Production Tax Credit (PTC) for wind energy is scheduled to expire at the end of next year, and already developers are freezing plans for any new projects. By passing an extension of the PTC, Congress will save American jobs currently in danger of being shipped overseas and help the wind industry support 500,000 American jobs by 2030 as envisioned by the U.S. Department of Energy in the George W. Bush administration. All across America, small businesses in communities like Kimball (population 2,559, according to the road sign at the edge of town), have reaped the economic benefits of wind power.
“The economic activity that the wind industry generates is almost as powerful as the wind that turns a turbine’s blades,” said AWEA CEO Denise Bode. “It’s wonderful to see towns like Kimball sharing their story of how wind power is good for businesses in their community. Congress needs to heed the call of American communities across the land and extend wind energy’s key federal tax incentive, the Production Tax Credit.”
One other positive aspect of wind power’s arrival, according to one Kimball resident interviewed for the video: food pantries for the needy are full, thanks to members of the wind energy industry, who more than doubled contributions. All families needing assistance during last year’s holiday season got it.
WindTV is a showcase of video profiles of Americans whose lives have been positively impacted by the wind energy industry. The site, located at www.awea.org/windtv, features a different video profile each week.
To view the segment on Kimball, Neb., and to see how wind power is positively impacting the lives of everyday Americans, go to WindTV.