In rural communities struggling with limited job growth and a roughly 40 percent net decline in farm incomes since 2011, wind and solar royalties have dramatically boosted economic development. In 2017 alone, farmers and ranchers received $267 million in wind farm lease payments, while other communities have seen their tax base increase from clean energy infrastructure projects.
The growth of low-carbon, affordable power across rural America is helping states attract investment from companies looking to improve their environmental performance. Just this past December, Apple pledged to spend $10 billion on new infrastructure across the United States, much of which will go to massive data centers run on electricity generated by renewable energy in rural North Carolina, Arizona, Nevada and Iowa. Walmart, which is often an important player in local economies throughout the country, is also investing in a comprehensive sustainability plan to procure more clean energy technologies, reduce waste, and improve land usage.