Driving across South Texas, you’ve seen them – acres of wind turbines, bright white during the day and blinking across the night sky.
In our region, the wind farms invoke a sense of pride. With several wind projects across our district, we’ve seen the wind industry bring reliable electricity, well-paying jobs and dependable income for many farmers and ranchers – opportunities that were not entirely within reach just a short time ago.
It’s important to take a look back at our state’s long history with the wind industry. From the Panhandle to the Valley, wind farms across the state have invested in rural communities like ours, by developing long-term economic engines. Recently beginning commercial operation, Duke’s Mesteño Windpower created 200 jobs for our communities during peak construction, not to mention the permanent jobs created and the $16 million in tax revenue it is delivering over the first ten years of operation. With more projects planned in our area, additional jobs and a positive economic impact is sure to follow.
Beyond our region, Texas is leading the country in wind energy. We are the number one wind energy generator in the United States, producing a quarter of the national total and more than 17 percent of all in-state electricity generation. In 2019, Texas added nearly 4,000 MW of wind power capacity, the most ever for any state. Texas leadership has contributed to this immense growth, and with the renewal of economic development programs that attract renewable energy investment, the wind industry will continue to bring business and opportunity to our backyard.
With more than 25,000 Texans currently working in the wind industry, opportunities range from the fastest-growing middle-wage position in Texas, wind turbine technician, to the construction workers and suppliers that support continued growth of the state’s wind industry. For our region’s jobseekers, Texas State Technical College (TSTC) offers a successful associate degree track for Wind Energy Technology at their campus in Harlingen, St. Philips College in San Antonio offers a Power Generation and Alternative Energy program, and Webb County ISD has also recently started an after school program for Wind Energy Technician Training. Students in our communities are earning a degree in a growing field with well-paying, reliable jobs. In these trying times, renewable energy workers, considered essential workers, have been able to continue providing vital services to our communities.
The impact of these jobs and economic growth are felt all across the state, especially right here in our South Texas district. Wind has meant more than reliable power – it is an economic boon that is providing opportunity and revenue streams to families, businesses and workers that they didn’t have before.
I’m proud to support wind energy and the investments made by the industry in our communities.
Editor’s Note: The above guest column was penned by state Rep. Ryan Guillen of Rio Grande City. It appears in The Rio Grande Guardian with the permission of the author.
Editor’s Note: The main image accompanying the above guest column shows Duke Energy’s Mesteño Windpower project in Starr County, Texas.
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