A New Energy Future
A future in renewable energy will create opportunities for the residents of Central Appalachia through education, economic diversification, and community development.
Investment in community owned RE development serves to diversify the economies of rural communities by adding to the tax base and providing new types of income. The spread of knowledge regarding the local benefits of community ownership will encourage replication of the model in the region and accelerate the market adoption of scalable renewable energy technology.
Renewable energy development will provide significant economic benefits on both the state and local level. In West Virginia, wind farms generate Business and Operations taxes, that is, for every 100 MW of wind development, the state receives nearly $275,000 per year, which can then be put towards education, hospitals, and improvements for roads. The state also receives corporate income and personal income taxes. On the local level, renewable energy development will generates significant tax revenues in the form of property taxes. Essentially, the more renewable energy that is developed, and the more jobs that are created, the greater the tax benefits to the region will be.
Locally-owned renewable energy development generates more local jobs than projects by absentee developers. A 2009 study compared the average employment impacts of community wind projects with corporate-owned wind developed in Colorado and Iowa, and found that construction-period job impacts are as much as 3.1 times higher for community wind than for corporate wind, and operations-period job impacts are as much as 1.8 times higher (Lantz & Tegan, 2009).
Renewable Energy Workforce
The development of biomass and wind energy facilities will create employment opportunities in renewable energy occupations while also increasing capacity and expertise in energy-related fields including construction, permitting, PPA agreements, and environmental assessment. In addition to the direct jobs created in the development phase, investment in the region will serve to employ a range of skilled workers in the long term including electrical workers, boiler technicians, mechanic, construction workers, etc… Partnerships with secondary institutions, career and technical centers, workforce development agencies, colleges, and universities will help to define career pathways in the renewable energy sector.
Local Economic Development
The JOBS Project believes that the local partnerships involved in renewable energy development will be long lasting, and promote further citizen participation in economic growth. We anticipate the development of an array of ancillary small businesses related to the larger facilities (manufacturing, retail, and recreational). These businesses will provide additional employment and propel the development of community wealth through their operations and participation in the local economy.
Expand Public Knowledge
Formal and informal educational opportunities including curriculum, on-line tools, workshops, and events will facilitate widespread knowledge of renewable energy technology. Increasing public awareness and participation contributes to a sense of connection between rural communities in Central Appalachia and communities worldwide who are participating in renewable energy initiatives and climate change initiatives.
Policies and Incentives
Local, state, and federal governments can help to maximize the benefits of community RE planning and to increase the widespread marketability of renewable energy in Central Appalachia. Education for the public regarding policy and incentives to support locally-owned renewable energy development are included in our strategy report. The effort will not only empower citizens to lobby for a clean energy future, but will also educate decision makers regarding the benefits of community renewable energy development in rural Central Appalachia.
Sustainable energy practices reduce greenhouse gas emissions to protect the environment world-wide, for rural and urban communities alike. We can create an energy system in which the benefits of energy services, such as light, heat, power and transport are equitably available for all: north and south, rich and poor. The JOBS Project encourages the people of Central Appalachia to help create true energy security through citizen participation in replicable, distributed energy projects.