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Source: Conservation Energy Network news release

Indianapolis, IN - Today, the Indiana Conservative Alliance for Energy (ICAE) and The Land & Liberty Coalition (L&LC) announced the joint release of a Purdue University report titled: An Examination of the Community Level Dynamics Related to the Introduction of Wind Energy in Indiana. The report is the result of extensive research conducted by four of Purdue's leading academics: ZuzanaBednarikova, Ph.D., Russell Hillberry, Ph.D., Indraneel Kumar, Ph.D., AICP, and Michael Wilcox, Ph.D.

This comprehensive report focuses on the local economic impact of large-scale wind developments. The researchers considered many facets of utility-scale wind energy facilities including their technological advancements over the past decade, the enhanced reliability they provide to the grid, and their cost effectiveness, which lowers energy costs to both businesses and residential consumers. Additionally, the report includes local testimony collected from focus groups, which reveals how individuals across the state feel about wind energy.

Highlights from the report include:
During the two-year construction phase, Indiana's first 1000 MW of wind power was associated with the employment of 690 full-time equivalent (FTE) workers and $64.5 million of additional economic activity.

Annual payments to landowners are estimated to be $3.7 million per year and local property taxes on the wind farms (that were featured in this study) are estimated to be $6.5 million per year.

The study's estimates of indirect impacts are that the first 1000 MW supported 2,820 FTE jobs and generated $395 million of economic activity during the construction phase. In the operational phase, they attribute 94 FTE jobs to the industry and $24 million per year to local economies.

The American Wind Energy Association estimates that the cumulative value of investments in Indiana's wind sector is $5.0 billion.

Benton and White Counties collected $4.3 million and $2.3 million, respectively, in 2019 property taxes from their local wind farms.

Technological progress between 2008 and 2014 substantially enhanced the productivity of Indiana's wind resource. In 2008, only about 8,000 acres could reasonably be considered for wind energy development. Now, nearly 53,000 acres meet the threshold for viability, meaning more Indiana communities than ever could benefit from hosting large-scale wind developments.

"Indiana is a leader in wind energy generation and this impressive research document confirms what we've been saying all along - that wind energy developments benefit rural Hoosier communities," said Jared Noblitt, executive director of ICAE. "We're excited to make this research available to policymakers, industry stakeholders, and citizens. We strongly believe in commonsense, market-based energy policy, and this document clearly shows that wind energy makes economic sense for Indiana."

Looking towards the future, the report emphasizes the need to increase engagement at the community level in order to remain successful in the permitting and development process - something the Land & Liberty Coalition, a project of the Conservative Energy Network, has been doing since its founding.

"These findings indicate tremendous opportunity for our local communities," said Jackson Keith, director of The Land & Liberty Coalition. "The study shows that for every 1000 MW built (a standard project is about 200-300 MW), $400 million in economic activity is generated. And this comes at a time when unemployment is high, businesses are being forced to close their doors, and markets are volatile. I can't think of a more economically stimulating project for a rural community to take on. Local policy makers should be seeking out this investment."

"The sizable property tax and other payments that the industry makes to local governments should be an important consideration for counties considering wind energy," said Purdue Researcher Russell Hillberry, Ph.D. "These payments spread the industry's economic benefits to the larger community through improved local services and reduced taxes on local citizens."

The authors conclude that wind energy represents a huge capital investment in Indiana communities. Wind farms bring geographically diverse and long-lasting benefits to many of The Hoosier State's rural communities, including millions of dollars in property tax revenues, annual lease payments to Indiana's farmers and well-paying maintenance and construction jobs.

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