Friday Fact Check: Wind Energy in America

Wind energy is already an important part of Michigan’s energy mix.

The role it plays will only continue to increase in significance as we continue to pursue our state’s clean energy and carbon reduction goals in the coming years.

Below are three more quick facts to help clear up any misinformation surrounding this vital, 100% renewable energy resource.

  1. Wind energy has minimal economic benefits.

FACT Check: Wind contributes more than $20 billion to the U.S. economy annually, powering stronger local economies as well as entire communities. Moreover, wind power provided American farmers and ranchers with $267 million in lease payments in 2017. This revenue helps farmers when bad weather impacts harvest or commodity prices change.  Sometimes this income can even make the difference between selling off land or continuing to operate the family farm.

Tax revenue from wind development is used for the improvement of roads, schools, health care, and public safety. Funds from wind support rural communities, with $22.3 million in 2015. The only counties in Michigan that were not forced to cut local services, like education, health and safety, during the 2008 recession were those with wind power income.

  1. Wind energy peaked years ago. 

FACT Check: The U.S. wind industry grew 9 percent in 2017, adding more than 7,000 megawatts (MW) of new wind capacity. A whopping 6.3% of the nation’s energy was created by wind power in 2017. In addition, the industry “added an additional 1,644 MW in the first three quarters of 2018” alone.

  1. Wind turbines are hazardous to local bird populations.

FACT Check: Far more birds are killed by flying into buildings each year than are killed by wind turbines. The annual avian mortality rate from turbine collisions is .2 million compared to 300 million – 1 billion from buildings.

As Michigan strives to build a cleaner, more sustainable future, wind energy will play a critical role in helping support an “all-of-the-above” energy approach, especially as reliability increases and consumer costs continue to fall. Be sure to check out our previous Wednesday Wind Fact Check blog post to learn more if you haven’t already.