DENVER — Proclaiming Wednesday as “Wind Day” in Colorado, Gov. John Hickenlooper saluted the wind energy industry’s tremendous contributions to the state’s economy. In his proclamation, Hickenlooper cited a 2008 study saying that wind energy could supply 20 percent of the entire nation’s electric needs by 2030.
The Colorado House and Senate passed a joint resolution recognizing the wind energy industry’s “tremendous contribution to Colorado’s economy.” In the House, the resolution passed 53 to 10, with only Republicans voting against it to show their support for traditional energy sources.
The resolution acknowledges that wind energy and associated industries provide 6,000 jobs in Colorado and generate $10 million in property taxes for Colorado counties annually. Rural landowners in the state receive more than $5.4 million in lease payments for the wind-energy projects on their property.
Proclaiming Wednesday as “Wind Day” in Colorado, Gov. John Hickenlooper saluted the wind energy industry’s tremendous contributions to the state’s economy. In his proclamation, Hickenlooper cited a 2008 study saying that wind energy could supply 20 percent of the entire nation’s electric needs by 2030.
Colorado’s wind energy generation has grown 29-fold in the past decade, with 1,800 megawatts of installed wind energy projects generating clean, inexhaustible and locally produced electricity in the Mile-High State compared with just 62 megawatts in 2002.
“A 2,900 percent increase in wind generation over 10 years is remarkable,” said Craig Cox, executive director of Denver-based Interwest Energy Alliance.
“However, the wind jobs situation is even more dramatic, with the number of wind industry jobs in Colorado growing from several dozen in 2007 to almost 6,000 workers now—a 17,000 percent increase.” Cox pointed out that “Colorado has become a national leader in wind energy manufacturing and supply-chain operations, creating thousands of good new jobs throughout the state.”
At a joint House-Senate committee briefing this morning, wind industry executives described the emergence of Colorado as a national leader in this rapidly growing industry. With about 1,800 employees in Colorado, Vestas is the state’s leading wind industry manufacturer.
Susan Innis, a government relations manager for Vestas, told legislators that her company invested in Colorado because it had the perfect combination of state policy, proximity to strong wind resources, a skilled workforce and quality of life. “With continued growth in state, regional and national wind energy markets, Vestas’ Colorado plants have the potential to grow,” Innis said.
“After the completion of our two new wind farms near Limon this year, our company’s projects will have a direct economic impact of more than $10 million annually in the form of tax payments, land lease payments and payroll,” said John Dailey, business manager at NextEra Energy Resources, LLC, Colorado’s largest wind energy developer with 575 megawatts in operation and 400 megawatts under construction.
“By the end of 2012 we will have invested over $1.6 billion in Colorado’s rural counties. NextEra Energy Resources is pleased to be part of this economic success story in Colorado.” Dailey cautioned, “The federal production tax credit, a key incentive for our industry, expires at the end of 2012. This uncertainty threatens to halt future wind development, putting over 30,000 American jobs at risk.” Statewide, industry experts point out that the wind industry has invested over $4 billion, providing over $10 million annually in county property taxes and over $5.4 million in lease payments annually. Future benefits disappear absent an expedient extension of the wind production tax credit by Congress.
Craig Walker, CEO of Walker Components based in Denver, told legislators that his company has added 42 workers in a dedicated facility to fulfill new demand from the Vestas manufacturing plants for cables and cable assemblies. “Vestas has been a great customer, and if state and federal policies remain consistent, we anticipate hiring at least another 14 workers to help meet growing demand for our products.”
Interwest’s Cox reported that nearly three dozen wind industry executives from around the country took part in Wednesday’s Wind Energy Day at the statehouse in Denver.