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Fossil Jobs Crash While Wind Power Booms in Tale of Two Texases

Lydia Jacobs/Public Domain Pictures

A post last week on CleanTechnica weaves a tale of two Texases, where fossil jobs are crashing while wind energy revenues boom.

The story begins with an article in the New York Times, one of several that have recently pointed to the jobless recovery in oil and gas. “Like manufacturing before it, the oil industry is undergoing a period of rapid automation,” note correspondents Steve Hargreaves and Courtney St. John. “Tasks that once required an actual worker are now being performed by software and machines.”

Wind companies, by contrast, “are adding jobs right and left,” with the U.S. Department of Labor declaring wind farm technician the country’s fastest-growing occupation.

While Texas’ fossil industry declines, some landowners are seeing US$10,000 to $20,000 per year from a single wind turbine. “I never thought that wind would pay more than oil,” one owner told The Guardian. “That noise they make,” he added, referring to the thrumming of the blades, “is kind of like a cash register.”

In Nolan County, meanwhile, the tax base has grown from $400 million to $3 billion per year, largely due to wind development.

Because clean power prices are generally set by decades-long contracts, renewables tend to produce a predictable flow of cash to public coffers,” CleanTechnica notes. “The oil industry, on the other hand, slashed the taxes it paid to state and local governments across Texas in 2016 by 40% from 2014 — another drawback to an industry dependent on volatile commodity pricing. When oil is cheap, tax revenue dries up.