Wind farms can generate enough electricity to power 250,000 homes. On average, they support more than 1,000 jobs, most of them permanent. Each site adds millions of dollars to the economy.
These figures, which come from the Natural Resources Defense Council, should not become the basis for Ohio's energy decisions. But they strengthen the argument for a four-year extension by Congress of the federal production tax credit for wind power that is set to expire at the end of this year.
The federal tax credit strengthens an Ohio law that requires 12.5 percent of the state's electricity to be generated by renewable energy sources by 2025. The tax credit, which offers a modest subsidy for startup production of electricity, also has inspired innovation in wind technology.
The credit has helped bring about a 90 percent reduction in the cost of wind power since 1980. That has led to 120 large-scale wind farms across the United States. Among them is Ohio's largest such project, the Blue Creek wind farm in Van Wert County.
Wind power supports 75,000 jobs in manufacturing, installation, and maintenance nationwide. In Ohio, more than 50 facilities make components for the wind industry; several of them are in Lucas, Williams, and Henry counties.
Ohio is fourth among the states in jobs supported by the wind industry. Extending the federal tax credit would help wind-related companies establish a better foothold, just as other sectors of the energy market became more established because of government support.
Renewing the production credit for wind power would help keep Ohio moving forward, in job creation and pollution reduction. That would help people breathe easier and reduce public health costs, while boosting the state's economy. Lawmakers from Ohio and everywhere else should extend the credit.