We all have those relatives. The ones we see only at weddings and the occasional reunion. For me, one of those relatives is a 15-year veteran of the wind industry as a turbine technician.
The median salary for a wind turbine tech is ~$53,000 annually, the median salary in West, Texas is ~$35,000. I’m no mathematician, but a 51% increase over the median wage seems meaningful. Not to mention the stability that a similar oil and gas job can’t provide.
But, the wage increases don’t tell the full story. This family member has 2 school-aged children. He’ll be the first to tell you the increased revenue from wage and population growth dramatically improved the school district and his children’s education.
This is the narrative we should be pushing as we navigate the energy transition and climate change. Americans care when the consequences, negative or positive, are tangible and personal.
Texas has more wind farms than any other state in the country and over 100 Texas school districts benefit. The state has an incentive that allows developers to keep property taxes low and in exchange, the developer contributes an agreed-upon amount to the local school district.
According to Moody’s, these agreements have been used for over 140 wind farm projects and spurred more than $23 billion of investment. In one district (Webb Consolidated), the payments account for 40% of the district’s revenue requirements.
Texas isn’t the only state where jobs tied to the energy transition are among the fastest-growing. In Pennsylvania, energy efficiency is bigger than the fuels industry, and when combined with power generation and transmission, the numbers aren’t even close.
In case you missed it in the second chart, solar and wind jobs are more than 3x the numbers tied to natural gas when it comes to power generation alone.
It’s also worth noting that all of the categories tied to renewables are outpacing fossil fuels in growth by ~33%.
The Clean Energy Employment Report for Pennsylvania says jobs in the sector grew by 8.7 percent, or almost 7,800 jobs, between 2017 and 2019. The statewide average job growth was just 1.9 percent during the same time period.
Growth. Personal. Tangible. Those three words should be required when we talk about climate change and the energy transition.