US wind power jobs up 20 percent

The industry has experienced a stabilization of its manufacturing sector, which now supports over 21,000 jobs across 43 states.

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American wind power supported a record 88,000 jobs at the start of 2016, which is an increase of 20 percent in a year, according to the U.S. Wind Industry Annual Market Report, Year Ending 2015, released by the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA, Washington, DC, US).

Congress passed a long-term extension of the wind energy Production Tax Credit and alternative Investment Tax Credit with bipartisan support late last year. With the extension in place and the recent industry growth, wind energy is on track to meet the Department of Energy’s Wind Vision scenario of supplying 20 percent of U.S. electricity by 2030.  

The job growth in 2015 is primarily attributable to more wind project development and construction, requiring more than 38,000 employees. The industry also experienced a stabilization of its manufacturing sector, which now supports over 21,000 jobs across 43 states, up over 10 percent in a year. And more than 8,800 jobs are held by wind turbine technicians, the fastest growing profession in the U.S., according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (growing more than twice as fast as the next fastest-growing job of occupational therapy assistant).

Texas leads the nation with over 24,000 wind energy employees. Wind project construction propelled Oklahoma to second place with more than 7,000 jobs. Rounding out the top five are Iowa and Colorado with over 6,000 jobs, and after moving up 11 spots, Kansas ranks fifth with over 5,000 wind workers. Maine gained the most in the state wind employment rankings, rising 16 spots.

Jobs at wind farms, wind-related manufacturing facilities, or both, are now located in 70 percent of U.S. Congressional districts.

Across the U.S. wind has attracted $128 billion in new wind project investment over the last 10 years. Texas ranks number one with the most capital investment at over $32.7 billion. The Lone Star State is followed by California (over $11.9 billion), Iowa ($11.8 billion), Oklahoma ($9.6 billion), and Illinois ($7.7 billion).

The American wind industry installed 8,598 megawatts (MW) of electric generating capacity across 20 states in 2015. That’s the third most ever in a year, and a 77 percent increase over 2014. An additional 9,400 MW of wind capacity was under construction as of the start of 2016, with another 4,900 MW in advanced stages of development.