As Oil and Gas Shrink, Wind Industry Takes Over in Texas: IEEFA

The wind industry in West Texas is booming an area known historically for its boom-and-bust oil cycles, concludes a report published by IEEFA.

Wind in Texas IEEFA

The wind industry in West Texas continues to create jobs, increase local tax revenues and drive economic development in an area known historically for its boom-and-bust oil cycles, concludes a report published by the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA).

The report—As Oil and Gas Wane, Texas Wind Industry Ascends—details how rising corporate demand, strong investor interest, and bipartisan political support have turned the Lonestar State into a world-class center for profitable wind-powered electricity generation.

“Texas is the wind-savviest state in the nation, and its growing number of wind farms are widely and correctly perceived as good investments, job creators, tax-base solidifiers, and engines of economic growth,” said Karl Cates, an IEEFA analyst and lead author of the report.

The report details also how wind remains a high-growth segment of the Texas energy sector, estimating that Electricity Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), the state’s main distributor of electricity, will see at least a 45 percent increase in its wind-generation capacity over this year and next, to 34,648 MW from 10,788 MW by the beginning of 2022. ERCOT controls most of the state’s electricity market.

The report also presents a case study of Nolan County, a community of 15,000 at the edge of the troubled oil and gas-driven Permian Basin, and a prime example of how the renewable energy industry has buffered some local economies from the devastating effects of a declining fossil fuel industry.

Key findings from the case study:

  • Tax revenues have increased, driven significantly by the wind industry, which today makes up 6 of the top 10, and 11 of the top 20 property taxpayers.
  • More jobs and higher wages have come to the county, where the unemployment rate has dropped with the rise of wind and where wind-energy workers are paid on par with oilfield employees.
  • The county seat of Sweetwater has drawn a range of wind energy service businesses and is home to Texas State Technical College, which graduates 50 to 75 wind technicians per year.
  • Knock-on utility-scale solar is emerging as a companion industry to wind farms.
  • Lease payments that typically range from USD 10,000 to USD 20,000 annually per tower are keeping longtime property owners on the land and creating significant community cash flow.

Read the full report here.

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Ayush Verma

Ayush Verma

Ayush is a staff writer at saurenergy.com and writes on renewable energy with a special focus on solar and wind. Prior to this, as an engineering graduate trying to find his niche in the energy journalism segment, he worked as a correspondent for iamrenew.com.

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