The good folks at the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy (SACE) are examining the impact of the wind industry in various Southern states, and yesterday Kentucky was in the spotlight. To date, the wind energy industry has created 462 jobs in the state, and generated $19.8 million in earnings. With a renewable energy standard of 20% wind power by 2030, the US Department of Energy estimates that Kentucky could produce 100-1000MW of energy, and see the creation of 10,000 manufacturing jobs. (There are currently eight companies supplying parts to the wind industry, mostly located in Northern Kentucky.)
However, the report concludes that for Kentucky to realize these benefits, we "will need to recognize renewable energy as a valuable economic engine" and "diversify [our] energy economy." There are many studies extolling the economic benefits of investing in renewable energy; wind and solar in Ohio alone has created approximately 9,000 manufacturing jobs. With a ready workforce and numerous industrial parks just waiting for tenants, there is no reason that Appalachian Kentucky couldn't see the same benefits. But without political leadership, those jobs will continue to go to other, more forward-thinking states.
If you are interested in learning more about potential of the wind industry in the Southeast, there will be a webinar sponsored by SACE on June 28, from 10-11AM. You can register here.