Wind energy generated in rural areas can be easily connected to the current utility grid system. In fact, rural leaders in the Minnesota Buffalo Ridge region where Benson lives are planning a new transmission line along I-90 that will bring energy to the Twin Cities. Benson’s region currently generates about 360 MW, but the rural communities can only use 50-60 MW.
“We need a line to export this new crop,” Benson said. “And we’re hoping to educate the community to be partners in owning the means of production. Our hope is that it really benefits the local communities.”
Although integrating wind energy into the energy portfolio mix sounds like a futuristic concept, harnessing the power of the wind is hardly a new idea in the American West. Small turbines on individual farms and ranches were commonplace before the advent of rural electrification. Implementing wind projects in rural America may be a return to the past that could help preserve rural communities and the family farm. Making a living on the family farm has never been easy, but harnessing wind energy as the cash crop of the future is proving to be a viable way to ease the financial burdens of farmers, ranchers and rural communities and preserve the rural way of life.
more information on wind energy and its benefits to a rural community, including
information on wind energy provisions in the 2002 Farm Bill, please visit
the Wind Powering America Web site at: http://www.eere.energy.gov/windandhydro/windpoweringamerica/
The U.S. Department of Energy contributed to this article.