How Rural Areas Benefit from Wind Farms

May 8, 2018

Benefit sharing and community engagement are best practices for wind siting.


NEW YORK, May 7 (Reuters) – Wind farms have boosted local tax bases and generated new revenue as they expand across the United States, especially for rural areas, Moody’s Investors Service said in a report on Monday.

“What we’re seeing is wind farms generate new operating revenues, lower the tax burden for local residents,” Moody’s analyst Frank Mamo told Reuters. “In many cases, local governments are using this new money to address what was a growing backlog of deferred capital expenditures.”


In Adair County, Iowa, construction of 10 new wind farms has grown the tax base nearly 30 percent over the last decade, giving it money to fix bridges and streets.

Wind farm taxes are also paying over 40 percent of debt service for Webb Consolidated Independent School District in Texas, Moody’s noted.

In Jackson County, Minnesota, a wind production tax generates nearly 20 percent of the county’s annual operating revenues and helped fund construction of a new public works facility.

Nearly half of the country’s installed wind power capacity is located in Texas, Iowa, Oklahoma and California, the report showed.

Yet wind power is growing elsewhere. At least 400 counties in 41 states had wind farms as of January, more than double the number that had them 10 years ago, Moody’s found.

The developments have expanded rapidly in Kansas and Minnesota, for instance. The primary factor for placing wind farms is an abundance of wind, but government tax incentives and mandated clean energy requirements can also drive their location.

The tax boost is especially strong in counties that are allowed to apply their locally determined property tax rate to the valuation of wind turbines, as they do in Iowa.

There, the state lets wind farms be phased into a county’s tax base, starting at 5 percent of a turbine’s assessed valuation annually until it hits a maximum of 30 percent.

Iowa’s booming wind energy sector also prompted tech companies, including Apple, Alphabet, Microsoft and Facebook, to invest a total of nearly $10 billion on data centers, Moody’s said.

Counties can also tax annual kilowatt hours of wind energy produced, as is the case in Minnesota.

Moody’s expects demand for wind energy to remain strong despite the phase-out of a federal production tax credit, talk of tariffs on imported steel and waning political support for state incentives.

Renew Economy Australia:

The shared economic benefits of wind farm development in Australia could deliver an estimated $10.5 billion back to regional communities, a new report has found.

The report, published by the Australian Wind Alliance on Monday, marks the first major coordinated effort to list and detail the direct and indirect financial and social benefits to Australia’s regional communities from wind power.

It finds that , so far, wind energy has delivered a $4 billion boost to Australia’s regional economies, with an increasing portion of that going directly to host communities via a range of so-called “benefit sharing mechanisms” (BSM).

Currently, the report says, between $19 and $21.5 million a year goes directly to communities through BSMs. But with another 14 more wind farms currently under construction, that annual figure is expected to increase to between $30 and $32.5 million, and stretch out to $10.5 billion over the projects’ 25-year lifetime.

As we reported here, “benefit sharing” has become central to the wind development process in Australia, as part of an industry-wide acknowledgment that a project’s success begins and ends with community engagement.

It can include such measures as setting up a community enhancement fund (CEF), where some of the profits of the project are reinvested back into the community, and “rental” payments to landholders – and their neighbours – of the wind farm site.

In Victoria, the state Labor government has gone as far as to incorporate a community engagement and benefit sharing component into in its state renewable energy auction – as both an eligibility requirement and an evaluation criteria for bidding projects.

According to AWA national coordinator Andrew Bray, more states should be following suit.

“Australia’s 82 operational wind farms are delivering significant financial and social benefits to their host communities,” Bray said in comments on Monda

The Conversation:

But no matter what, wind project developers clearly must actively engage, coordinate and cooperate with local communities and community members. Inclusive and transparent planning processes can dissipate local residents’ fears. Local ownership and financial benefits may help sway nearby residents who would otherwise object to a new wind farm.

7 Responses to “How Rural Areas Benefit from Wind Farms”

  1. J4Zonian Says:

    “the tax burden for local residents”

    This is a conservative frame, in which taxes are not the way we fund civilization, services, labor, citizen and ecological protections but instead something to play on inequality-triggered selfishness to get even more for the already-rich. We shouldn’t play along.

    • Gingerbaker Says:

      Great point. 🙂

    • Andy Lee Robinson Says:

      Faced with a choice between:
      1. inequality and a habitable planet, vs
      2. inequality and an uninhabitable planet

      I think we’d all settle for 1.

      Inequality may be solved in the next revolution, fixing an uninhabitable planet is not so easy!

      • J4Zonian Says:

        The rich are causing pretty much the whole drive toward a dead planet, through their direct personal consumption a little, but far more because of the decisions they make—to have suburbs and empires, to have inequality because they’re addicted to control, domination, and expressing their hatred and rage, and because of the effects inequality has on individuals, society’s structure, and the rest of nature.

        If it weren’t for inequality and the determination of the rich to cling to their positions and illusions, solving the GHG crisis and probably the larger ecological crisis would be simply a matter of logistics—building enough wind turbines, solar panels and other clean safe renewable energy, organic farms and gardens, forests and grasslands, and ecological forms of industry. But we don’t have an ecological crisis, we have a eco-psychological crisis in which political, social, ecological, military, religious, cultural, patriarchal, relational, and other crises are just manifestations of our psychological affliction. Logistics are just logistics, healing our psyches is the hard part; and despite the monstrous size of the logistical job, it’s relatively simple to solve and entirely possible, even given that we only have about 7 years to solve them. Like the moon landing, mainly just a technical problem. But of course it’s not; we have to at least begin to solve the problem behind the problem (first by a admitting it is the problem, then making a commitment to solve it). Then we can get to the logistics.

        • Andy Lee Robinson Says:

          Well said j4.
          Humanity needs programming with prime directives that are respected and enforced.

  2. J4Zonian Says:

    The problem with this video, dear Sir, is that reality and the right are so bizarrely dishonest now they’re not satirizable, unless people say the actual words of denying delayalists and arfs (anti-renewable fanatics) while doing Monty Pythonesque silly walks. I have no doubt that many people will take this at face value and spread it around as true.

    Since it’s on that edge, the sleeper effect will mean less informed people will remember only one thing about it: WIND NOT GOOD; COAL NOT BAD. and opinions of wind will mysteriously go down and of coal will strangely go up. Not measurably, but enough to matter in combination with all the other equally despicable things fossil fools are spreading around.

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