To witness the economic promise of wind energy, look no further than Sweetwater, Texas.
Sweetwater was typical of many small towns in middle-America. With a shortage of good jobs, the youth of Sweetwater were leaving in search of greater opportunities. And the town's population dropped from 12,000 to under 10,000.
When a large wind power facility was built outside of town, Sweetwater experienced a revival. New economic opportunity brought the town back to life and the population has grown back up to 12,000.
In the Texas panhandle, just north of Sweetwater, is the town of Pampa, where T. Boone Pickens' Mesa Power is currently building the largest wind farm in the world.
At 4,000 megawatts — the equivalent combined output of four large coal-fire plants — the production of the completed Pampa facility will double the wind energy output of the United States.
In addition to creating new construction and maintenance jobs, thousands of Americans will be employed to manufacture the turbines and blades. These are high skill jobs that pay on a scale comparable to aerospace jobs.
Plus, wind turbines don't interfere with farming and grazing, so they don't threaten food production or existing local economies.
Tuesday, July 8, 2008
The Economic Argument
Pickens summarizes my favorite parts of the economic argument below. I'll have more on this over the next couple days. This just makes it clear that alternative energy is not just good for the environment, it makes good business and economic sense.