Wind power to create 4,200 Maine jobs this year, boosts state economy

This is a guest blog by First Wind’s John LaMontagne, cross-posted from First Wind’s website with permission. Pictured: Two First Wind employees on the job at the Bull Hill Wind project.

Two First Wind employees on the job at the Bull Hill Wind project.A new economic report predicts that the wind energy industry could create as many as 4,200 jobs in the state of Maine alone in 2015.

In addition, the report demonstrates that the industry has already invested nearly $550 million into the Maine economy since 2006 and will invest another $750 million in the next few years.

The analysis of wind energy in Maine released today shows that the industry has made a significant positive impact on the state’s economy, not only in terms of investment, but also in terms of creating jobs.  The study states that the industry has been employing more than 1,500 people per year and helping to open new markets for Maine companies.

Conducted by Charles Colgan, Ph.D., and the Maine Center for Business & Economic Research at the University of Maine in conjunction with Wind for Maineand the Maine Renewable Energy Association (MREA), the report’s major findings include:

  • New investment of nearly $1.28 billion between 2006-2018;
  • $1.14 billion in employee earnings over the same period;
  • Creation of 1,560 jobs per year, peaking in 2015 at 4,200; and
  • Development of new markets for 23 Maine-based companies that led to nearly $89.6 million in sales in 2011-2013 and 390 jobs in Maine.

Wind for Maine and MREA announced the results of the report at a press conference today and in a press release.

First Wind is a member of Wind for Maine and MREA.  First Wind alone has built 5 operating wind projects in the state and has put more than 1,500 people across the state since starting construction of the first utility-scale wind project in Maine at Mars Hill in 2006.  First Wind is also building what will be the largest wind project in New England with the 148 MW Oakfield Wind project, which is expected to be completed later this year.  Other First Wind projects in Maine include the Rollins Wind project in Lincoln, the Stetson I & II projects near Danforth and the Bull Hill Wind project near Eastbrook.

First Wind has a number of projects it hopes to build in 2015 and 2016, including projects near Bingham and Eastbrook, Bingham Wind and Hancock Wind.

“The development of wind energy generation has become a significant industry in Maine,” Colgan said in the press release issued today. “The industry has brought substantial new investment into the state and created thousands of jobs, helping to diversify and strengthen Maine’s economy.”

The report also predicts that 2015 will be a peak year for job creation from wind power in Maine when more than 4,200 jobs will be created as a result of the industry’s activities.  The average number of jobs created per year for 2015-2018 is estimated at 2,756.

“Looking at the last few years, one of the only bright spots in the private-sector development has been in the energy sector. The report today highlights the benefits of wind energy on Maine’s construction economy. The report indicates 6 percent of construction jobs, 1,400 will be supported by wind energy projects. There are very few other industries investing $1.28 billion in development,” said Matt Marks, the chief executive officer of the Associated General Contractors of Maine.

In addition to job creation and economic impact, by 2018 clean, emission-free wind energy projects are predicted to account for more than 1,300 megawatts of electricity production, larger than any other single electric generating facility in Maine.

“Maine wind farms generate clean, renewable energy that can help to hold down electricity costs for consumers while reducing air pollution and our region’s dependency on fossil fuels,” said Jeremy Payne, the executive director of the Maine Renewable Energy Association. “We know it’s critical for this investment to experience a predictable and fair regulatory climate that will encourage new investment in wind, hydro, solar and other renewable energy resources.”

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