Nebraska Rural Electric Association Advocates Against Benefit of Members
The Renewable Electricity Standard would require large electric retailers to get at least 20 percent of electricity from a combination of renewable sources and energy conservation. The 15 percent that would be required from renewable sources could include wind, solar, biomass, new hydropower generation, etc.
The Nebraska Rural Electric Association recently took a broadside at supporters of the standard for creating unrealistic expectations for job creation, based on a Department of Energy study completed during the Bush administration. The study concluded that producing 20 percent of the nation’s electricity from wind in 2030 would create 3,500 permanent jobs in rural Nebraska.
The association criticized the study, saying jobs on wind farms would be about one-fourth of that. It’s too bad they didn’t study the Department of Energy report because it reached essentially the same conclusion – jobs on wind farms would account for about one-fourth of the 3,500 permanent jobs. Over three-fourths would be in supply and service industries and spinoff jobs created by more people employed and spending money in local communities.
The report projects similar new job numbers for Kansas, Minnesota, Montana and South Dakota, and over 9,000 new permanent jobs in Iowa. The Center for Rural Affairs is launching a project with organizations in Kansas and South Dakota to enable rural small businesses to capture the opportunities in supplying and servicing the wind industry.
Of course, these are just potential jobs. To become reality, the wind industry needs a kick start – just like the ethanol industry needed tax incentives and renewable fuel standards before it gave a boost to the rural economy. A 20 percent Renewable Electricity Standard would provide that boost.
We ask board members and customers of Rural Electric Districts to guide their association to a more open-minded approach to wind energy, one that considers its benefits as well as its costs.
The districts are right to serve as watchdogs over rural electricity rates. But the Renewable Electricity Standard would not apply to a single Nebraska rural electric district. They all fall under the exemption for small utilities. That puts the districts in the curious position of advocating against legislation that would benefit their members and their communities to protect ratepayers in cities.
Urban ratepayers don’t need their protection. The same Department of Energy study projects that the cost of the new wind turbines and transmission lines would be covered by savings in fuel costs, plus about 50 cents per U.S. household per month.
That’s a small price to pay for revitalizing rural America, strengthening America’s competitiveness and ensuring American energy security.
Agree or disagree? Contact Chuck Hassebrook, email@example.com or 402.687.2103 x 1018 to express your views.