Editorial: Wind farms a worthy alternative natural resource

Wind is one of Mother Nature’s most powerful resources.

Its unruly momentum can unleash an unforgiving force of destruction that can severely damage everything in its path. But when its plentiful force is harvested through modern technology and converted into electricity, wind is an unlimited natural resource that can provide jobs, strengthen economies and encourage investments.

Data from the American Wind Energy Association tell the story for the U.S.:

■ Investing in U.S. wind farms has spurred more than $143 billion in private investment in our economy during the past 10 years.

■ Wind energy supports more than 114,000 well-paying jobs, including many manufacturing, construction and technical jobs across the country.

■ More than 24,000 U.S. workers in more than 500 factories across 42 states build wind-related parts and materials.

■ Rural landowners receive more than a quarter of a billion dollars in lease payments every year for hosting wind turbines, what the association describes as a “drought-resistant cash crop.”

■ About 70% of all wind projects are in low-income counties where land lease payments, tax payments and jobs boost local economic prospects.

The numbers become even more meaningful for Texas, which is the nation’s largest wind power producer.

More than 27 gigawatts of wind capacity has been built in the state, which has provided more than $46 billion in capital investment and built 46 wind equipment manufacturing facilities, according to the association.

No wind farms are online in East Texas, but at least one private Longview firm has expanded to service the industry in the state.

Though some wind generating facilities are popping up in the Coastal Bend region of South Texas, most of our state’s facilities are well to our west, stretching from Central Texas north into the Panhandle. And three of the top 10 largest wind farms in the world are in Texas: Roscoe Wind Farm southwest of Abilene, Horse Hollow Wind Energy Centre in Taylor and Nolan counties, and Capricorn Ridge Wind Farm in Sterling and Coke counties.

One factor that helps keep the wind energy industry spinning is a federal tax incentive known as the Production Tax Credit, which is designed to help wind developers access the capital needed to build new wind projects.

For most of 2019, industry experts and observers were expecting the Production Tax Credit to expire Dec. 31, and planning for how that would impact the industry. Shortly before the new year, however, Congress and President Donald Trump made a wise decision to extend the credit through 2020.

As a story in Sunday’s Business section pointed out, even without the credit the wind industry was expected to continue growing to maturity in Texas. Once fully built out, other forms of alternative energy will be expected to get more investment across the Lone Star State.

Considering the positive impacts of renewable resources, it makes sense for lawmakers to prolong federal tax incentives to encourage growth of the wind industry as well as solar, storage, offshore wind, electric vehicles and other clean energy priorities.

We are pleased the wind energy Production Tax credit was continued to give the industry at least one more year of support, and look forward to further growth of alternative energy in Texas.

Today's Bible verse

“You are forgiving and good, O Lord, abounding in love to all who call on you.”

— Psalms 86:5

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