A Clean Energy Economy for Indiana: Analysis of the Rural Economic Development Potential of Renewable Resources

Issue Paper
May 28, 2010

Indiana's advanced network of rail lines, interstate highways and waterways has made it "The Crossroads of America." But the global economic downturn has hit Indiana hard, causing the loss of almost 200,000 jobs since the beginning of 2008. Facing an unprecedented set of economic challenges, Indiana stands at a new crossroads and is poised for healthy growth if it can take advantage of the enormous potential for development of its exceptional renewable resources.

With some of the world's most productive farmland, ample water and steady winds, Indiana has all the ingredients needed to be at the center of a new energy economy for America. Tapping into this vast reservoir of clean energy would create tens of thousands of high-quality jobs and give a big boost to farm income and rural economies across the state. Policies to spur the development of clean energy resources could position Indiana as a national leader in producing renewable energy, income and jobs, and could export homegrown energy to other states.

Renewable energy production is already one of the nation's fastest growing areas of job creation. A study conducted by the Political Economy Research Institute (PERI) of the University of Massachusetts and co-sponsored by NRDC found that clean energy jobs in Indiana grew by almost 18 percent over the 10 years ending in 2007, a period when overall employment in Indiana fell by 1 percent. The study found that investments in clean energy and energy efficiency create, on average, more than three times as many jobs as fossil-fueled energy for every dollar spent. Most of those jobs generate relatively high wages and are spread across a wide range of skill and education levels.

Indiana can be at the center of a new clean energy future for America if the right policies are put in place, starting with a national commitment to reduce emissions of global warming pollution, support energy efficiency and advance development of homegrown renewable energy.