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Video: Economics of Wind

Video: Economics of Wind

Date: 3/1/2009

Location: OK

Source: Oklahoma Horizon, re-edited by CleanEnergy.org.

This is the text version for the video. Time: 00:04:46

The video opens with Rob McClendon, Host of Oklahoma Horizon, broadcasting from an open field in Oklahoma with multiple wind turbines turning in the background. You can hear the wind blowing in the microphone.

Rob McClendon: "The U.S. wind energy industry blew away all previous records by installing over 8,000 megawatts of new generating capacity last year. In fact, wind projects completed in 2008 account for about 42 percent of the entire power producing capacity added in our nation last year. Yet some still worry whether wind can survive the economic storms of the country's financial crisis. Our Alisa Hines sat down with Larry Flowers, team leader from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, to talk about the economics of wind power."

The video goes to the interview where Larry Flowers is sitting in a room talking to Alisa Hines who is interviewing him.

Larry Flowers: "There's four major flows, of, economic flows into a community. The first is during construction. This is a HUGE impact when they bring in hundreds of workers to build the wind farm. But it only lasts maybe six to nine months. But it's still significant for that community. But the more important is the long term. Long term you have three major cash flows. You have the jobs associated with operating and maintaining those wind farms. A two hundred megawatt wind farm, a nominal size wind farm, might employ 10 people full time. That doesn't sound like a lot, but in a rural community, that's 10 families that will be growing up, spending their money, raising their children, being part of the activities, and that's really critical. The second piece is the lease payments for the land on which the wind turbines are put. Typically you're talking about three thousand to five thousand dollars per megawatt, per year, for taking maybe half an acre out of production. So that's a very good income stream for basically no risk to the farmer. And then the third which is very important is the tax base. These are capital intensive equipment. This is, you know, two million dollars a megawatt, and that's a taxable item at the local level, and that goes into schools, and roads, and infrastructure that can help the community. So, there's a big, there's a really big economic development play, we think, if we really build this out to 20 percent it's a four hundred billion dollar economic development impact for the country."

"As I mentioned this morning, a really bold future for wind, in the Twenty Percent Vision, will save four trillion gallons of water. And, almost a trillion gallons of that water will be saved in Texas and Oklahoma. And water is critical for agriculture, and right now we have a train wreck that's coming down toward us, which is, we have growing loads in the west, we have ethanol production which uses a lot of water, comsumes a lot of water per gallon of ethanol. We have power plants coming on, thermal power plants coming on that require a lot of water. Thermal power plants use more water than agriculture in our country. And so, water, it's a big water savings. There's going to be carbon legislation; the Obama administration has commited to that. Carbon legislation is going to add to the cost of fossil fuels making wind even a better deal. But most importantly, I believe, and this is what I think T. Boone Pickens main theme that resonates so well in rural America is, energy security. This is a resource that we're going to have in our backyards, forever, and not developing it, and continuing to import oil and natural gas seems, almost, non patriotic. So, it's really an opportunity for America to look toward itself and its resources and at the same time helping rural America in its economic development."

The video breaks to the Okalahoma Horizon logo and cuts back to Rob McClendon, broadcasting from the open field with the wind blowing and with multiple wind turbines turning in the background.

Rob McClendon: "And if 2008 is any indication, wind energy is an economic and job creation dynamo. Currently, about 85,000 people are employed in the wind industry, up from about 50,000 just one year ago. Now if you head to our Web site at OkHorizon.com, you can visit a classroom where the next generation of wind workers is being trained. Plus, we have part of my conversation with oilman and wind proponent, Boone Pickens, about why he believes wind is the new oil. To see both of these stories, simply go to OkHorizon.com and click on value added."

This story was re-posted with permission.

This information was last updated on April 16, 2009