You probably haven’t heard of Coke County, Texas. Out of thousands of counties in America, it’s one of the smallest, with just 3,300 residents.
But it enjoyed the biggest economic boom of any county from 2019 to 2021, according to an analysis from the Bureau of Economic Analysis. In those two years, Coke County’s gross domestic product (GDP) rose by 83%, from $128 million to $235 million.
The growth is being credited to a surge in wind farm construction and other renewable energy initiatives. New wind farms are paying landowners in Coke County annual royalties of up to $10,000 while creating jobs and lowering energy costs. These twin economic benefits have helped the county’s GDP per capita rise from $39,000 a year to $71,000. The explosion in wealth has led one county judge to describe the locals as “tickled pink about this.”
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But it’s not just Coke County. Of the 10 American counties with the biggest spikes in GDP from 2019 to 2021, seven have seen major wind farm construction in that time frame.
For now, Coke County must decide how to spend the annual payments of $787,000 it’s receiving from the Aviator Wind Farm over the next decade. An official says the money will be spent on roads, bridges, senior centers and other projects benefiting the public.
What’s striking is that this boom, which is already transforming dozens of U.S. counties economically, started well before President Joe Biden signed the $369 billion clean energy stimulus package into law last August. The law is lavishing tens of billions of dollars on wind and solar energy projects through tax credits or direct spending.
In particular, the law extends a tax credit for solar power production facilities, providing they begin construction before January 2025. This will encourage a wave of new solar power manufacturing facilities throughout America — especially when paired with the $8 billion the federal government is spending to help households install solar panels.
Between these tax credits, $8 billion in direct spending and Biden’s order to decarbonize hundreds of thousands of buildings owned by the federal government, it’s clear that millions of buildings in America will be installing solar panels in the next few years.
One startup looking to capitalize, YouSolar, is pioneering an advanced nano-grid to allow customers to build their own power grid with minimal inconvenience or disruption. The company’s fully-integrated power grid will allow households to retain power even amid blackouts of the conventional power grid.
For now, YouSolar mainly serves high-income households in Northern California. But that could quickly change as massive incentives for solar power generation transform households, businesses and government agencies throughout America.
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