We’ve all felt the power of a North Dakota wind, its gale force moving snow drifts over six feet high or offering a cool waft of relief on a hot summer day. As a prairie state, it comes with the territory. But rarely do we realize how abundant and valuable an asset wind truly is as an energy source. The demand for wind power is vast, and its value is growing. Wind energy creates jobs, supports our farmers and ranchers, and generates tax revenue.
The Wind Industry of North Dakota (WIND), the state’s coalition of industry members and supporters, believes the industry has a lot to offer the state as it continues to grow and diversify our economy. North Dakota ranks fifth in the nation in share of electricity generated from wind, at one-quarter of the state’s total generation. Over the past fifteen years, North Dakota’s wind energy capacity has grown from less than 100 megawatts to more than 3,000 megawatts. And the growth will continue, because our customers want wind power.
As turbines turn, they are powering jobs. Wind energy supports more than 1,500 permanent jobs in North Dakota. Including indirect and manufacturing jobs, that number stretches to nearly 4,000. To date, more than $5.8 billion of private capital has been invested in North Dakota wind generation, from manufacturing plants to supply chain operations servicing our state’s 29 commercial wind farms. That’s a huge boost to our economy.
The possibilities wind provides are unconstrained by geographic boundaries — benefiting 27 counties and every corner of North Dakota. Landowners, farmers, and ranchers across the state are already harvesting wind energy to bring in additional revenue for their operations. In fact, a wind turbine lease can pay a farmer up to $10,000 annually over its lifetime, on average 20 to 25 years. In addition, we are seeing millions of dollars in revenue generated for local communities, dollars which are funding schools, roads, and other local projects across our counties.
It’s no secret that North Dakota is a leading state in energy production, a flag we proudly wave. From oil, natural gas, and coal, to ethanol, wind, and emerging solar, the state’s “all of the above” energy strategy proves how diverse its natural resources are. North Dakota actually produces more than six times the energy it consumes and leads the nation in its ability to satisfy its own electricity demands through wind generation.
This surplus has allowed North Dakota to become a net exporter of wind energy to other states, and their demand for this product is only growing. WIND’s members are developing projects to help meet that demand, all while creating hundreds of construction jobs, good-paying permanent jobs, and support for our communities right here at home.
But that’s not all. Technological advancements are making wind energy more efficient and cost effective. Newly modified turbine and blade designs and larger rotors are making it possible to generate more electricity with fewer turbines. This is further driving down the cost of wind power, which is already one of the most economical forms of energy available. By incorporating these new technologies into our wind facilities North Dakota can increase wind energy production while lessening the impact of development.
As we celebrate Global Wind Day this June 15, let us appreciate the blessings wind energy has brought to North Dakota, and let us continue to advance this growing industry. Now is the time for North Dakota to proudly take the lead in extracting this valuable natural resource from above for the benefit of all current and future residents of this fine state.