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Renewable energy fuels major economic payoffs in rural Indiana

Inspection engineers preparing to rappel down a rotor blade of a wind turbine
Jacques Tarnero/Tarnero - stock.adobe.com

Wind and solar projects are powering a big surge for Indiana's economy.

You've probably seen tall wind turbines and row after row of flat panels on solar farms. The clean-energy farms are fueled by sunshine or wind and produce more than electricity.

David Loomis, president of Strategic Economic Research, said communities located near renewable-energy fields reap additional rewards.

"Economic development, benefits, property taxes, jobs," Loomis outlined. "It can be a real spur for mostly rural communities to see tremendous economic development."

The U.S. Department of Energy has pledged to cut emissions in half by 2030. However, investors face headwinds from fossil-fuel aligned groups accused of sowing dissent with misinformation to bog down progress. Opponents of renewable-energy projects cite impacts to wildlife, health and property values as their biggest concerns. About a third of Indiana is already off-limits to siting wind turbines.

Loomis pointed out companies have already invested $9 billion in Indiana for wind, solar and energy storage projects and have paid nearly $27 million in local and state taxes. The industry has also employed about 12,000 workers. Loomis added clean energy farms online already in Indiana have created a significant amount of electricity.

"In Indiana we've seen 4,300 megawatts of capacity built, and that's hard to get your mind around," Loomis observed. "What does that mean? But it's really 1.2 million homes can be powered with clean energy generated right there in Indiana."

The total benefits of wind and energy storage projects for the state are currently unknown. However, Loomis argued the payoff is sure to be big and benefits are only expected to increase as Hoosiers embrace expanding renewable energy projects.

Joe has more than 35 years experience working in Indiana newsrooms. He started his first job when he was 16 years old in Logansport at the hometown radio station. He loved broadcasting so much he eventually joined the team fulltime.
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