Wyoming is on the verge of a significant opportunity to take a major step forward for economic and energy industry diversification. This opportunity will contribute to a broader and more stable business environment for current and future generations of Wyoming residents.

The opportunity is the renewed development of the wind power industry in Wyoming. This industry will use an abundant Wyoming natural resource that cannot be depleted. It will bring massive capital investment, direct and indirect employment, and ancillary supply chain industries that will provide new economic and energy portfolio diversification opportunities and new and diversified tax revenue streams for our state.

No single industry can equal the economic contributions that our mineral extraction industries provide for our state. However, utility-scale wind power generation can enhance, diversify and complement Wyoming’s energy economy portfolio and provide significant long-term benefits to our overall economy and employment base. Over $10 billion in wind energy projects are currently planned.

Consider these conservative estimates of positive economic potential, as uncovered through a 2016 University of Wyoming study:

Over $7 billion in new economic activity in the state.

Over $3 billion in new labor income.

Over $1.9 billion in new tax revenue over the initial 20-year life of the projects proposed, primarily paid in property taxes, sales and use taxes and electricity generation taxes.

Nearly 52,000 job-years of new employment – including construction and services jobs that Wyoming’s economy especially needs right now.

Also, consider the following points important to those of us seeking to further expand Wyoming’s manufacturing base:

Existing Wyoming manufacturing and materials companies can benefit from the opportunity to supply materials and components needed for wind turbines and associated project infrastructure.

New manufacturing and technology companies could locate here to be close to and help supply the industry’s unique needs.

Transportation and distribution infrastructure can be developed to support the build-up of the wind industry and then would be available to help grow other industries, too.

Our current and future generations of highly skilled workers would have more opportunities to stay in Wyoming, working in high-quality Wyoming jobs.

Meanwhile, state and county permit regulations – reinforced in Wyoming legislation passed in 2010 – help assure that environmental impacts of wind farms are analyzed, addressed and mitigated to the extent practicable, not only before, but during and after construction.

Wyoming and the nation have long benefited from our mineral wealth. More recently we have benefited from growth in manufacturing, data, and software technology industries. We now have the opportunity to lead again in our energy economy. Supporting responsible development of the wind power industry with significant accompanying supply chain industry growth opportunities will benefit Wyoming for generations to come. Wyoming wind power will help lead Wyoming to a broader, more diversified economic future for generations to come.

Mike Wandler is the president of L&H Industrial, Gillette WY, and vice chairman of Alliance of Wyoming Manufacturers.


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