Economic Benefits of Wind Energy Development Woo Local Communities

Nov. 9, 2009

Audio with Jim Marker, Somerset County, Pennsylvania Commissioner (MP3 1.0 MB) Download Windows Media Player. Time: 00:02:10.

The effort to bring wind energy to Pennsylvania started in the late 1990s. Somerset County, Pennsylvania Commissioner Jim Marker says it started with eight wind turbines — with more cropping up in the last decade. He says Somerset County, according to the wind companies, is a prime spot for developing wind energy.

While the growth of the industry has been met with a variety of opinions, Marker says most realize the importance of wind energy to the future.

"I believe overall, most people have the understanding that if we want to continue to turn our lights on, if we want to continue to heat water so that we can take a hot shower; that we're going to need alternative forms of energy as we move into the future. You know, looking out 15, 20, 30, 50 years, we need to make sure that we explore alternative forms of energy. So I think most people understand that."

Marker says they've certainly witnessed the economic benefits that come with wind energy development.

"There are many economic benefits from bringing money in from a state and federal government level, from a business investment level, from companies all over the world bringing money directly into our local economy, and benefitting landowners and benefitting local businesses and local municipalities and things like that."

Marker says the manufacturing of wind turbines in the state is a great example. Gamesa is a company based in Spain that is positioned among the most important wind generator manufacturers in the world — and they have a location in Pennsylvania.

"A direct business is the number of jobs that are created, good paying, good wages, family sustaining jobs. And there's been millions of dollars invested into our county. They generate some tax revenue to the county, to the municipality, and of course the larger taxes to the school districts."

As a result of the benefits, Marker says interest in and acceptance of wind has increased. But he says it will take more than public acceptance if Pennsylvania is to achieve its full wind potential.