The U.S. wind industry continues to shatter records. In 2015, wind energy supported 88,000 jobs, an increase of 20 percent over 2014. The data was released as part of the U.S. Wind Industry Annual Market Report, Year Ending 2015 from the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA). The strong job growth coincided with wind energy hitting the number one spot as the country’s new source of generating capacity.
The report was officially released at the Vestas wind turbine component factory near Denver and Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper was on hand for the event. He noted in his remarks, “In 2015, Colorado ranked fifth in the nation for wind power capacity additions. An investment in the wind power industry and in wind projects generates new jobs, economic development in rural counties and clean air benefits to all Coloradans.”
Helping to fuel growth is the re-passage of the wind energy Production Tax Credit along with the Investment Tax Credit late in 2015. The report finds that wind energy is on track to meet the Department of Energy’s Wind Vision scenario of supplying 20 percent of total electricity by 2030.
“Wind power benefits more American families than ever before,” said Tom Kiernan, CEO of AWEA. “We’re helping young people in rural America find a job close to home. Others are getting a fresh chance to rebuild their careers by landing a job in the booming clean energy sector. With long-term, stable policy in place, and a broader range of customers now buying low-cost wind-generated electricity, our workforce can grow to 380,000 well-paying jobs by 2030.”
The job growth in 2015 is primarily fueled by more wind project development and construction, requiring more than 38,000 employees. The report found the industry also experienced a stabilization of its manufacturing sector, which now supports over 21,000 well-paying jobs across 43 states, up over 10 percent in a year. And more than 8,800 jobs are held by wind turbine technicians, the fastest growing profession in the U.S., according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Texas leads the nation with over 24,000 wind energy employees. Wind project construction propelled Oklahoma to second place with more than 7,000 jobs. Rounding out the top five are Iowa and Colorado with over 6,000 jobs, and after moving up 11 spots, Kansas ranks fifth with over 5,000 wind workers. Maine gained the most in the state wind employment rankings, rising 16 spots.