Wind generators under construction at Combine Hills Turbine Ranch, Oregon
The multiplier effect of this
new investment activity will stimulate another 2,900 indirect jobs in Texas.
Wind power is bringing relief to rural Texas and creating jobs statewide.
Wind power also is providing a nice kick to the local economy
of Milton-Freewater, Oregon, according to Mayor Lewis Keys. The new 41 megawatt
Combine Hills Turbine Ranch wind farm in his district will provide wind
power for area residents, who also will benefit from the infusion of construction
dollars. Having been a farmer of wheat, barley and peas for 35 years,
it was hard to imagine the surrounding land being used for anything other
than farming, but now I can see the diversity of its uses, Keys said.
Leroy Ratzlaff, a third-generation landowner and farmer in Hyde County,
South Dakota, agrees. Ratzlaff and his family used a homemade wind generator
in the 1930s before rural electrification reached their farm. In 2003, he
leased his land to a wind developer that installed seven wind turbines,
providing a much-needed economic boost. It’s not as risky as farming,
Because much of the nation’s wind energy potential
is found in rural areas, wind energy offers an unprecedented opportunity
for rural economic development. Wind energy can offer:
Corn Growers Support Wind Energy
April of 2003, the American Corn Growers Foundation commissioned
a nationwide, random and scientific survey of more than 500 corn
farmers in the 14 states representing nearly 90 percent of the
nation's corn production. The poll found that 93.3 percent of
the nation's corn producers support wind energy; 88.8 percent
want farmers, industry and public institutions to promote wind
power as an alternative energy source; and 87.5 percent want utility
companies to accept electricity from wind turbines in their power
This article was prepared with information provided
by the U.S. Department of Energy, Wind Powering America program.
to Rural Landowners
Rural landowners who lease their land to wind developers typically receive
about 2-4 percent of the gross annual turbine revenue $2,000
to $4,000 for each turbine which can help compensate for a downturn
in commodity prices. The Union of Concerned Scientists estimates that
typical farmers or ranchers with good wind resources could increase
the economic yield of their land by 30-100 percent. Wind turbines have
a small footprint and do not occupy much land, so farming and ranching
operations can continue. It’s almost like renting out my farm
and still having it, Ratzlaff said. And the cows don’t seem
to mind a bit.
Increased Local Tax Base
Wind power projects bring new tax revenue to rural communities. Payments
generally range from 1-3 percent of the project’s value. At 1 percent,
property tax payments would provide approximately $10,000 for each megawatt
for rural communities each year. These revenues can be used to build
new schools, roads, bridges, and other infrastructure.
Here are some examples of states that are increasing their tax revenue
because of wind energy projects:
County, Texas, added $4.6 million to its property tax revenue in
In Iowa, 250 megawatts of wind development provide $2 million per
year in property tax revenues for local communities.
A 20 megawatt wind farm in Kewaunee County, Wisconsin, will result
in annual property tax payments of $200,000 to the county, or 50
percent of its annual budget.
The development in Hyde County, South Dakota, will result in $250,000
for the county.
Wind power projects create new jobs in rural communities in manufacturing,
transportation and construction of projects. Roads must be built. Towers
must be erected. Once the projects are complete, jobs are created in
the operation and maintenance of the projects. The wind power plant
in Lake Benton, Minnesota, is now the second largest employer in town,
after the school district. In Iowa, construction provided 200 six-month
construction jobs and 40 permanent maintenance and operations jobs at
an average wage of $16 per hour. The U.S. wind industry currently contributes
to the economies of 46 states. And according to a study by the New York
State Energy Research and Development Authority, wind energy produces
27 percent more jobs per kilowatt-hour than coal plants and 66 percent
more jobs than natural gas plants.
to the Communities
Not only do rural communities benefit directly from wind power projects,
but they also benefit indirectly. When new jobs and additional farming
income are created, the paychecks are spent in local stores and restaurants,
boosting the local economy and creating additional jobs. Of course,
wind energy offers many benefits beyond rural economic development.
Wind energy is “homegrown” energy that can extend non-renewable energy
sources, helping to secure our energy future, reduce energy costs and
reduce our dependence on foreign energy. Wind power produces no air
or water emissions, which improves the health of our environment. But
perhaps the greatest benefit of all is the hope that wind energy projects
can offer to rural Americans who wish to remain on their family farms
and make a living from them. We never dreamed this would happen, Ratzlaff said about the turbines on his land. It’s going to make for a merry Christmas!
More about Wind and Economic Development in Your Rural Community
of Nebraska Home april2004/disclaimer.htm">
This organization partners with the Institute for Agriculture
and Trade Policy to promote wind education and outreach. The organization’s
Web site athttp://www.windustry.org">www.windustry.org
features a section called Wind Farmers Network of America. If
you don’t have Internet access, write to Windustry, 2105 First
Avenue South, Minneapolis, MN 55404; or call 800-946-3640.
Powering America Program
Wind Powering America Program is committed to dramatically increasing
the use of wind energy in the United States. Visit the Wind Powering
America Web site at:http://www.windpoweringamerica.gov/
to find state wind maps, small wind consumer's guides, wind workshops
that are going on in your area, and much more.
Wind Energy Association
AWEA offers a fact sheet entitled “Wind Energy for Your Farm or
Rural Land.” It is available online athttp://www.awea.org/pubs/factsheets/WindyLandownersFS.pdf.
You can also access a list of developers athttp://web.memberclicks.com/mc/page.do?orgId=awea.
Write to The American Wind Energy Association at 122 C Street
NW, Suite 380, Washington, DC 20001; or call 202-383-2500.
Corn Growers Foundation http://www.acgf.org/">
Learn more about the foundation’s Wealth
from the Wind program athttp://www.acgf.org/">