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Coos County Wind Project Would Create 550 Jobs, Contribute $40.6M to Economy

By Lori Wright, Media Relations
April 15, 2009

A new report from UNH shows that a proposed wind power project in hard-hit Coos County would have significant economic benefits, contributing $20 million to the North Country economy and creating 550 jobs in the next two years.

“Economic Impact of Granite Reliable Power Wind Power Project in Coos County, New Hampshire” was conducted by Ross Gittell, James R Carter Professor, and Matt Magnusson, research scientist, Whittemore School of Business and Economics.

The 99 megawatt wind power project capable of generating enough power to serve about 40,000 homes is being proposed for Coos County by Granite Reliable Power. The project is before the New Hampshire Site Evaluation Committee, which must rule on it by May 6, 2009.

According to Gittell and Magnusson, the $250 million project would have significant benefits for the local economy.

“The wind power project will create 550 jobs in the next two years, many of these well paying construction jobs. This would come exactly at the time when the state and county most need it due to the national recession,” Gittell said. “It can contribute to the foundation for New Hampshire to establish itself as a leader in the region for renewable energy. And for Coos County, an area of the state that has been struggling, the wind power project represents a potential economic bright spot.”

According to the researchers, construction and operations jobs with the project are expected to pay on average $45,000 in annual wages, about 50 percent higher than the county average. The new employment includes jobs directly from the project for construction (materials and services) and from the expenditures from the income generated by employment on the project. About 200 workers would be directly involved in construction, with the workforce coming from a 100-mile radius of the project, including Northern New Hampshire, Maine and Vermont. The wind farm, in its on-going operations phase, would create more than 70 jobs in the local economy.

In net, the wind power project will contribute $40.6 million to the North Country economy (representing about 2 percent of the Coos County economy) in 2009 and 2010. Once operating, the project will contribute $4.3 million (0.4 percent of the Coos County economy) annually to the northern New Hampshire and surrounding area economy.

“Not only does this project provide direct economic benefits, it develops the skills and expertise of North Country and New Hampshire employees in renewable energy. The U.S. wind energy industry alone is growing at a significant rate, with investment totaling $17 billion in 2008. Coupled with the $43 billion earmarked for energy-related initiatives, including renewable energy, smart grid and energy efficiency in the recently passed federal stimulus package, forces are aligning for significant U.S. growth of renewable energy. It is in New Hampshire’s best interest to develop the skills necessary to participate in this up-and-coming opportunity,” Gittell said.

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