Letter: Changing America’s economy with clean power
North Dakota has long been a proud leader in energy production, and renewable energy is opening the door for the state to create a robust economy.
North Dakota has long been a proud leader in energy production, and renewable energy is opening the door for the state to create a robust economy. The American Clean Power Association (ACP) reports that North Dakota produces 4,302 megawatts of renewable energy, powering the equivalent of 1.1 million average North Dakota homes. Renewable energy projects have become a key player in our energy grid while offering incredible investment and economic development opportunities. As we celebrate American Clean Power Week, let us acknowledge how clean energy strengthens North Dakota communities.
As the executive director of the Forward Devils Lake Corporation, I am committed to seeing economic growth in our region. I already see this growth in our state's clean energy industry, which supports 2,200 jobs. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, wind turbine technicians and solar panel installers are projected to be the second and fifth fastest-growing careers during the next decade. Adding more clean energy projects to our grid will result in an influx of local jobs that supply a stable income. These projects are an effective way for our state to create a booming workforce and promote energy independence.
Clean energy projects also allow our state to support rural communities. The 2020 census revealed that two-thirds of the nation's rural counties lost population during the last decade. With 40% of the state living in rural areas, those communities are vital to our state's economy. Clean energy projects can spur rural job growth, allowing young people and their families to stay in rural areas.
In addition, rural landowners receive a stable source of income from renewable energy projects. In 2022, clean energy projects paid North Dakota landowners more than $22 million in land lease payments. These payments are often dispersed into the community, supporting local businesses such as restaurants and shops.
Renewable energy has become a boon to North Dakota. The industry offers many benefits for our state's workforce, rural communities, and landowners that we can't afford to miss. This is American Clean Power Week, during which I applaud our strides in renewable energy development and look to a bright future here in the Roughrider State.
Barth is executive director of Forward Devils Lake Corporation.