Research Offers Insight into Economic Impact of Wind Plant O&M Workers on Communities

Dec. 16, 2020

Between 2008 and 2018, land-based wind energy deployment in the United States grew at an annual average of 13%, according to the Energy Information Administration—and the bulk of that development takes place in rural communities. In fact, about 99% of the entire U.S. fleet of wind turbines calls rural communities home.

Despite these numbers, stakeholders within rural communities—local businesses, residents, and government officials—may not be fully aware of the economic and workforce impacts brought about by both the construction and operation of wind power plants.

At the onset of 2020, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) examined questions that arise when wind energy comes to a community, highlighting some of the positive socio-economic impacts and perceived challenges. In their new report Workforce and Economic Development Considerations from the Operations and Maintenance of Wind Power Plants, NREL researchers Matthew Kotarbinski, David Keyser, and Jeremy Stefek seek to expand our understanding of wind’s economic impact by examining operation and maintenance (O&M) worker integration in communities.