Turning Their Backs On The Wind

Wind energy presents a unique opportunity to create new jobs and increase incomes in rural Nebraska.
So we disagree with the Nebraska Rural Electric Association's opposition to federal legislation requiring large electric retailers to get 20 percent of electricity from renewable sources by 2020. And we're troubled by the way they have dismissed the economic benefits of wind to rural Nebraska.

The association wrote in its magazine that a Department of Energy study from the Bush Administration creates unrealistic expectations for wind related jobs. The study concluded that producing 20 percent of U.S. electricity from wind would create 3,500 permanent Nebraska jobs.

The association said jobs on wind farms would be about ¼ of that.  If it had read carefully, the association  would've realized the report projected the same number of jobs on wind farms -about ¼ of the 3,500 permanent jobs. Over ¾ would be in supply and service industries plus jobs created by more people employed and spending money in local communities.

But to create these jobs, wind needs a kick start - just like ethanol needed tax incentives and renewable fuel standards.  The association says renewable electric standards would force electric rates higher.  But rural electric districts and other small utilities are exempt.  So they are fighting legislation that would benefit their members and their communities to protect urban ratepayers.

The cities don't need their protection. The Department of Energy projects that heavier reliance on wind would cost only 50 cents per household per month.

That's a small price to pay for revitalizing rural America and ensuring our energy security.