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What blows in with the wind?

De Silva, Dakshina G. and McComb, Robert P. and Schiller, Anita R. (2014): What blows in with the wind?

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Abstract

The shift toward renewable forms of energy for electricity generation in the electricity generation industry has clear implications for the spatial distribution of generating plant. Traditional forms of generation are typically located close to the load or population centers, while wind and solar-powered generation must be located where the energy source is found. In the case of wind, this has meant significant new investment in wind plant in primarily rural areas that have been in secular economic decline. This paper investigates the localized economic impacts of the rapid increase in wind power capacity at the county level in Texas. Unlike Input-Output impact analysis that relies primarily on levels of inputs to estimate gross impacts, we use traditional econometric methods to estimate net localized impacts in terms of employment, personal income, property tax base, and key public school expenditure levels. While we find evidence that both direct and indirect employment impacts are modest, significant increases in per capita income accompany wind power development. County and school property tax rolls also realize important benefits from the local siting of utility scale wind power although peculiarities in Texas school funding shift localized property tax benefits to the state.

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