Every day, more than 300 locals head to work at the Siemens wind turbine blade plant on Clearview Drive in the southwestern Ontario town of Tillsonburg. The plant, which thrives in what was once a mothballed auto parts factory, is one of the most tangible examples of the benefits wind energy development has brought to the province. As a new economic impact analysis plainly demonstrates, however, it is not the only one.
Earlier this year, CanWEA commissioned Toronto-based Compass Renewable Energy Consulting to delve into the contribution the wind energy industry is making to Ontario’s economy. We knew we had a good story to tell, and felt that being able to put firm numbers to the jobs and investment our industry has brought to the province would help us tell that story better.
What we found is that the value proposition wind brings to Ontario is considerable. As stories go, it’s a real blockbuster.
The Compass analysis found that in the 25 years from 2006-2030, wind energy in Ontario will have stimulated more than $14 billion in economic activity, including $650 million that will flow directly into local economies in the form of land lease payments, municipal property taxes, and community vibrancy funds. The industry will create 73,000 full-time equivalents (FTEs) — each representing one year of employment — and pay more than $5 billion in wages and benefits.
An important takeaway from this analysis is that when you have a long-term vision with clear goals, you create a climate that attracts investors and drives economic growth. The converse, however, is also true. The study looks only at the 6,480 MW of wind energy projects that are already operating or in the pipeline under Feed-In Tariff (FIT) and Large Renewable Procurement (LRP). Beyond this, Ontario currently has no plans for new wind energy purchases, and risks losing many of the good-paying, wind-related jobs it has created. Alternatively, Compass found, adding another 1,000 MW of wind energy between now and 2030 would boost the job creation benefits by 7,000 FTEs.
There is little doubt that the wind energy industry is delivering significant economic benefits to Ontario. The challenge now is to continue what’s been started, and build on the investments the province has made so that wind energy’s contribution to the green energy economy continues to pay dividends in the years to come.
For more, download Wind Dividends: An Analysis of the Economic Impacts from Ontario’s Wind Procurements or the Executive Summary document.