Keeping Farmers on the Land with Wind Energy

January 17, 2011

“Nobody gripes about them at all and everybody that’s got them is plum happy.” – Edward Koester, Logan County, CO

Climate deniers hate wind power. The giant turbines have become welcome additions to the landscape in rural areas around the country, and the world, and they provide irrefutable evidence that renewable energy is here, it’s real, and it works.  Wind has been a leading source of new electrical capacity in the US for several years now.

Iowa was the first state to get more than 10 percent of its energy from wind, currently generates between 17 and 20 percent of its electricity from wind, and is heading toward much more.

What’s important for rural communities is the additional income wind brings to areas that are dependent on fickle economics of farming.  Chad Martin, a renewable energy specialist with Purdue University Extension, calls wind a “once in a generation” opportunity for farmers.

“The base lease payment per turbine has definitely increased,” Martin maintains, “For national average figures, we’re talking $3,000 to $5,000 per year per megawatt of production. And some people are getting up into the $10,000 range per year per turbine.”

That’s revenue that will help communities keep services, while keeping taxes down, and allow farmers to keep their land in the family. In Michigan’s rural thumb region, farmers are eagerly signing easements on their property even when no immediate wind project is on the table. If you ask why, they’ll tell you they are doing it for their family, and their grandchildren’s future on the land.  Wind power provides steady revenue, while leaving 99 percent of land available for farming or pasture.

Farmers are the best and most reliable stewards of the land, and a vital part of the solution to climate change will be in finding the best agricultural practices for preserving and building soil, and stopping urban sprawl.

One Response to “Keeping Farmers on the Land with Wind Energy”

  1. BlueRock Says:

    Excellent post, Peter. Thanks.

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