Energizing Rural Communities
You may be aware of the environmental benefits of clean, renewable energy sources, such as wind, solar and geothermal, but these projects also give rural communities an economic boost. Counties and landowners in the Pacific Northwest are discovering the advantages of renewable energy development.
Sherman County is a prime example of a rural community that is reaping benefits by harvesting a new crop – the wind. Revenue from wind farms is helping to diversify this historically single-engine economy that is under increased stress from low wheat prices and decreasing harvests, and family farms are getting a boost.
This historically single-engine economy that is under increased stress from low wheat prices and decreasing harvests, but now family farms are getting a boost as revenue from wind farms are growing. Wind turbines are compatible with farming, occupy little land and can pay farmers many times what they earn per acre harvesting crops. According to Lee Kaseberg, a local wheat and wind farmer, the turbines are compatible with farming operations. “Put them up, we can farm around them easily,” declares Kaseberg. Maintenance workers access the turbines on his land via new roads put in during turbine construction. A neighboring farmer, John Hilderbrand, adds, “The new roads allow easier access to my fields. Plus, the turbines make money in the winter when I can’t work my land.”
In addition, wind farms add substantially to Sherman County’s tax base and help support essential services such as schools, fire departments and road maintenance.
Across the river, communities in Washington are seeing similar results. Just four of the state’s 11 wind projects provide enough clean, renewable energy to power 162,000 average Northwestern homes.
The benefits to the rural counties also include:
Fossil-fueled power plants drain billions of dollars out of the regional economy each year to pay for imports of coal and natural gas. The wind that blows across the region is a free and truly homegrown energy source that keeps money and jobs in our communities.
Wind power development represents a major economic windfall for the region as they generate millions of dollars in new property tax revenue for counties, millions more in annual royalty payments for landowners and creating hundreds of new jobs, in addition to generating clean, homegrown, renewable energy.