Wind energy has grown a lot over the last few years. Energy produced from wind farms has become competitive with fossil fuels, and development of new wind projects continues across the country.
The Great Plains and Midwest are well positioned to continue playing a lead role in the future of renewable energy development. Especially since states in the region boast some of the best wind energy resources.
Renewable development is a natural fit for many rural communities, bringing benefits that help grow economies and improve the lives of residents. Development has the potential to provide a lot in return to communities. Developers and workers feed into local economies, landowners receive annual payments, and wind farms generate property tax revenue that goes to counties.
Small towns like Lakefield, Minn., provide a great example of how wind energy development can bring in new dollars to a rural community. In 2010, Lakefield had over 100 turbines planned or installed in the area.
The turbines brought new construction jobs to the area and created permanent jobs in the community. Jackson County, where Lakefield is located, also expected about $700,000 annually in tax revenue from area wind turbines.
This revenue meant the county and towns have more money for valuable local services like schools, fire and rescue, and police. Workers stimulate local businesses around the community with their spending.
In wind-rich states like Minnesota, wind energy provides landowners and communities a chance to bring new opportunity to their areas. Whether it’s payment to landowners, new economic activity, or new tax revenue; development brings real and tangible benefits to rural communities.
Minnesota already produces enough wind energy to power over 830,000 homes, meeting the needs of users in Minnesota as well as neighboring states. That development has brought about 2,000 jobs, over $5 billion in investments, and $9 million in land-lease payments to landowners.
Although challenges exist for new wind energy development, Minnesota and towns like Lakefield continue to reap the benefits from new wind development. Building new wind energy not only provides clean and renewable power, but opens up new possibilities for rural communities.
To learn more about the benefits of wind energy to rural areas, visit www.cfra.org/clean-energy.
Feature image: Rural development is a natural fit for many rural communities, bringing benefits that help grow economies and improve the lives of residents. | Photo courtesy of Wyatt Fraas