Business & Society

USU Study: Wind Power Project in San Juan County Could Benefit Economy

A newly released Utah State University-U.S. Department of Energy study estimates that a modest 50-megawatt wind power development near Monticello in San Juan County, Utah, could generate during its construction more than $31 million in economic output for the state of Utah. It could also support 51 onsite construction jobs with a total payroll of almost $3 million, the study concludes.
“Wind power creates both short-term and long-term economic opportunities for rural communities in terms of job opportunities, lease payments to landowners and increased property tax revenues to fund local community projects,” said Cathy Hartman, marketing professor in the Jon M. Huntsman School of Business and one of the co-authors of the study.  
During its first year of operation, a 50-megawatt wind power plant could generate about $150,000 in land lease payments to San Juan County landowners. It could also generate more than $1.3 million in local property taxes for San Juan County, of which more than $800,000 would support the San Juan School District, the study concludes.  
The report, “An Analysis of State-Level Economic Impacts from the Development of Wind Power Plants in San Juan County, Utah,” is available from the U.S. Department of Energy Web site (              
The study examines the economic impacts of two feasible scenarios of wind-project installations — 50 megawatts and 100 megawatts — for a site near the city of Monticello in San Juan County. The Utah State Energy Program’s anemometer loan program has identified the Monticello site as having wind resources that warrant additional testing for potential commercial development.
The economic impacts were estimated using the Job and Economic Development Impact model developed by the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Golden, Colo. USU graduate David Ratliff and Huntsman Marketing professor Edwin Stafford were co-authors of the study along with Hartman. 
“Property tax revenues from wind power plants can be a significant economic boon for rural schools,” Stafford said. “Even a modest 50 megawatt wind farm could infuse millions of dollars into budget-constrained rural schools over a wind farm’s 20-year life. That’s an important social benefit for rural Utah.” 
Utah has two commercial wind projects in operation — an 18.9 megawatt project at the mouth of Spanish Fork Canyon and a 203.5 megawatt installation just outside Milford in southern Utah. Those successful projects overcame numerous policy, location and market obstacles that are paving the way for more wind development throughout the state, according to Hartman.      
“Understanding the economic opportunities posed by developing wind resources could help build market demand and community support for local wind energy development,” she said. “Adding wind-generated electricity to the utility system offers an immediate, viable way to move our state toward a clean energy economy.”
The Jon M. Huntsman School of Business at Utah State University seeks to inspire and equip students to become innovative, ethical leaders with refined analytical skills that will help them understand and succeed in the global marketplace. The Huntsman School of Business is one of seven colleges at USU, located in northern Utah. More information on the Jon M. Huntsman School of Business may be found at its Web site.
Writer: Steve Eaton, 435-797-8640
Contacts: Cathy Hartman: 435-797-4062, Edwin Stafford: 435-797-3890
USU professors Edwin Stafford and Cathy Hartman

USU professors Edwin Stafford and Cathy Hartman co-authored a study that provides insights into the economic benefits of a wind power project in San Juan County.


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