CSU–Pueblo releases study on impact of wind towers on Huerfano County economy

The regional economics class of Dr. Kevin Duncan in the Hasan School of Business (HSB) at Colorado State University-Pueblo recently released the results of a study conducted on behalf of Huerfano County that revealed that initial construction of the proposed Pole Canyon Wind project and ongoing operation could add more than $10 million to the Huerfano County economy.

Conducted by HSB international undergraduate student Zelinda Singh (Nepal), the report was submitted to CSU-Pueblo alumnus John Galusha, (‘88 BSCET), who serves as Huerfano County Administrator. According to Galusha, the wind farm will employ about 150 to 200 people during construction over an 8 to 12 month period. Construction is anticipated to begin in the next 2-3 years. After that, the towers will operate with eight people at $60K annual salaries. Leases with owners have been obtained for 26,000 acres with the intent to install 300 mega watts of power at 2 mega watts per tower - or 150 towers.

The economic impact study was divided into two components -- the impact of the construction of 150 wind energy towers ($5.9 million), and the impact of the ongoing operation of the wind towers and rent paid to landowners ($4.2 million).

The report showed that construction of the wind towers will provide new sources of short-term employment during the construction phase as well as long- term employment associated with the operation of the facilities. Construction activity will create an additional 58 jobs and approximately $54,000 in local taxes ($21,000 in city/county sales taxes and $33,000 in local property taxes).

Galusha said the study had been well received by the Commissioners and Planning Commission and will help Huerfano County make site decisions for future wind farms. The study was shared with Tri-State and Xcel Energy as well as Pole Canyon Wind.
“I especially appreciate the University being available for this type of community assistance,” he said.

According to Duncan, this data can be used to provide an estimated economic impact per tower built. For example, each tower adds approximately $40,000 to the local economy ($5.9 million/150 towers). Similarly, each tower adds approximately $360 to local sales and property tax revenue. The study found that one more job is created locally when three more towers are built. He cautioned that it is important to remember that this impact is based on the percent of construction that will be done by Huerfano County resident workers, not work completed by construction workers outside the county. It is estimated that 20 to 30 percent of the 150-200 construction workers involved in the initial phase will reside in the county. This allowed the researchers to more precisely capture the impact of wind tower construction on Huerfano County.

The impact of the ongoing operation of the wind energy towers and the rent paid to area landowners will add another $4.2 million annually to the Huerfano County economy. Relative to additional jobs and taxes, the ongoing activity would support 14 more local jobs and contribute approximately $268,000 to local taxes ($104,000 in city/county sales tax and $164,000 in property taxes). This data can be used to estimate the yearly economic impact of operating each wind tower in the county. For example, the operation of each tower adds $28,000 to the local economy ($4.2 million/150). Similarly, the operation of each tower adds approximately $1,800 to local sales and property taxes. The operation of 10 towers supports one more local job.

Additional details about the study may be obtained by Duncan at 719.549.2228 or, kevin.duncan@colostate-pueblo.edu

Wind Industry Background Information
Data collected at the end of 2006 indicates that Germany has the largest installed wind capacity in the world followed by Spain, the United States, India, and Denmark. More than 300,000 people are currently employed in the global wind industry and it has a 25 percent growth rate in the past few years. Almost 50 countries are operating the 75,000 megawatts of wind turbines, which generate more than 1 percent of the electricity used worldwide.
The biggest wind farm in Colorado, and one of the largest in the nation, is located on a cattle ranch near Lamar, Colorado, part of the 162-MW Colorado Green Wind Farm. Each turbine produces 1.5 megawatts of electricity.

Colorado State University - Pueblo is a regional, comprehensive university emphasizing professional, career-oriented, and applied programs. Displaying excellence in teaching, celebrating diversity, and engaging in service and outreach, CSU-Pueblo is distinguished by access, opportunity, and the overall quality of services provided to its students.