Experts: Wind Energy a Significant Economic Driver in CO
DENVER - With 4,000 people employed in 19 facilities plus more than $4 billion of capital investment in the state, the wind-energy industry is a significant economic driver in Colorado. At an event Tuesday in Denver, industry and community leaders discussed the growth potential and benefits associated with future investments.
Wind-energy companies are poised to be part of a climate solution that's good for the state's economy, said Interwest Energy Alliance executive director Sarah Propst.
"It's one of the cheapest, quickest and largest-scale ways to reduce a number of kinds of pollution," she said, "and it's readily available for Colorado to help implement the national climate action plan, which will limit carbon pollution from power plants."
Propst said policies that incentivize private investment in clean energy are critical for the state's economic future. According to the American Wind Energy Association, wind energy already installed in Colorado saves nearly $1.5 billion gallons of water per year, and saves carbon emissions equivalent to taking 715,000 cars off the road.
Vestas operates four wind-turbine manufacturing facilities in the state. Susan Innis, Vestas' senior manager for public affairs, said state support has been crucial to her company's success and pointed to the renewable-energy standard put in place by a ballot initiative in 2004.
"That program has since been expanded twice, and that is a big part of why wind industry has been so successful here in Colorado," she said. "We've had great support from local and state-level elected officials, and that's enabled the state to get now over 11 percent of its electricity from the wind."
Colorado is ranked sixth nationally in terms of the amount of wind-energy installations. On an annual basis, according to Vestas, the industry pays $7.5 million to landowners who lease their property for turbines.