The 15 counties on Colorado's Eastern Plains could see $9.4 billion in investments and construction and crank out 95% of the state's renewable energy capacity, according to an analysis released Tuesday.
"The Economic Benefits of Colorado’s Eastern Plains Renewable Energy Industry” is the result of a partnership between The Western Way conservative nonprofit with the civic and business alliances Action22 and PRO 15.
You can read the analysis by clicking here.
The report examined 40 Colorado renewable energy projects, including seven due for completion by 2024.
Investment has increased 75% since 2016, supporting 6,334 jobs at 366 businesses on the plains, the report states.
The projects are paying $23.1 million in annual property taxes and $15.2 million in lease payments to ranchers and farmers each year, as well.
“This economic impact study is important on two fronts for eastern Colorado,” said Greg Brophy, the former state senator and Colorado director of The Western Way, a group focused on conservation and energy. “First it quantifies the benefits that the region receives for its part in generating the vast majority of Colorado’s renewable energy, of which the importance cannot be understated.
"Lastly, this report should be a call for counties in the eastern plains without any projects to roll out the welcome mat and begin to benefit from this economic development.”
By 2024, the Eastern Plains’ renewable capacity is expected to grow by another 22%.
“In several of the counties in my legislative district, taxes paid by wind farms make up nearly half the amount of the annual operating revenue for county government," stated Rep. Rod Pelton, a Republican from Cheyenne Wells. "This is a long-term and stable funding source which does not fluctuate with the market and it is enabling local governments to fund needed services without raising taxes."
Cathy Shull, the executive director of PRO 15, also cited the benefit to respective landowners and communities that the projects deliver.
"The growth in the economic output, local tax revenue and jobs in just the last four years is astounding," she said in a statement. "Eastern Colorado is open for business and ready for more.”
Logan County Economic Development Director Trae Miller saw long-term benefits from new projects and reinvestments in older projects to extend their lives for decades.
"These projects benefit Logan County with an increase in tax base, but also provide a great revenue stream to local small businesses," he said. "With the nation’s premier wind technician training program at Northeastern Junior College, access to strong wind and solar resources, and local support, Logan County has gained a reputation as one of the best places to develop new energy projects in the country."