Clean Energy & Rural America

There is a critical need for new and upgraded transmission capacity to unlock the wind power potential found in much of rural America.

Both our economy and our future depend on moving power from the remote regions of the Great Plains and Upper Midwest to the demand centers that need it most. Maximizing our renewable energy resources will help develop local economies, create opportunity in rural communities and ensure environmental stewardship.

Our goal is to better assist landowners and other rural stakeholders to ensure that clean energy transmission is built in an equitable, sustainable way - a way that works best for rural citizens and their communities. Those affected by new transmission will benefit from forming real partnerships with developers and those in the regulatory sphere, relationships that result in greater engagement in planning, new responsiveness to concerns and more equitable compensation models.

We hope to serve as your resource for clean energy transmission information and ideas as we work toward improved opportunity for all involved. Make sure to share your thoughts and concerns as we help make sure your voice is heard. 

Related Resources and Links
Speak Up In Nebraska!
Tell Nebraska Public Power District that you want long term investments in renewable energy. Submit your comments today (click here).
 

Landowner Ideas Needed Involved in a wind development project? Your insight can improve the process for others.

Map of Clean Energy Transmission Projects Provides an up-to-date overview of transmission projects in the Great Plains and Upper Midwest.

Energy Resources for Farmers & Ranchers Organizes resources for farmers and ranchers interested in renewable energy by type.

2012 Energy Survey Results of a survey of Extension Educators on renewable energy topics.

Connect the Dots: Transmission and Rural Communities This report examines how expansion of the electric transmission grid will bring more wind energy online, creating rural jobs in both transmission and wind industries.

Clean Energy Transmission Principles We are developing principles to address increased transmission of wind energy in a way that considers the voices of those who will be affected by new lines.

Wind Energy Poll Shows Overwhelming Support A poll finds overwhelmingly favorable (94%) impressions of wind power among Nebraska voters and strong majority (79%) support for requiring large electric utilities to use renewable energy sources for at least 20% of electricity they generate.

Renewable Energy's Economic Potential Examines the economic potential of wind energy development, including the economic impact, job creation and wind resources in IA, KS, NE and SD.

Economic Promise

Clean energy addresses an economic need in underserved rural communities. For more than half a century rural communities have been losing population, often at a rate of 10% per decade. The root cause is a lack of economic opportunity resulting from a changing agricultural economy. Renewable energy offers a significant opportunity to diversify the rural economy and create new opportunity.

Wind development holds economic promise for communities in wind-rich areas like the Upper Midwest and Great Plains. When the Nebraska legislature held a hearing on wind development, one group of citizens drove 400 miles to testify that for the first time in memory, there was renewed hope for the future of their community. Underserved rural communities like this one will benefit from wind development, but the resource will only be developed if the necessary transmission exists to carry it to market.

One such community is Petersburg, Nebraska. It is appreciating those economic benefits firsthand. In the video below, co-produced by the Center for Rural Affairs' Kat Shiffler, residents speak about their experiences with the Laredo Ridge Wind Farm and the potential value of renewable energy for rural America.

Clean Environment 

Ensuring adequate transmission capacity in high wind areas will reduce the cost of wind energy, making it possible to meet and exceed policy goals and standards in place. Unlocking the tremendous wind energy capacity of regions like the Great Plains is also key to reaching 20% to 30% wind energy generation nationwide.

The wind is always blowing somewhere. Both reliability and variability concerns are minimized by utilizing wind energy in diverse locations, thus maximizing the efficiency of this resource. Bringing this amount of wind online will enable the retirement of coal-fired generation, contributing greatly to critical reductions in carbon dioxide emissions. 

Transmission and Wind Projects

The past decade has seen significant gains in climate awareness on both a state and federal level. Renewable energy standards are driving demand for clean resources such as wind. But in many cases the low-hanging fruit has been picked – wind farms have been built near existing transmission sources.

Expanded transmission capacity is essential in order to enable a new generation of wind farms. The current economic climate is also prime for the development of needed infrastructure projects. See our clean energy map to get up-to-date on the possibilities!

Organizing & Policy

The case for greater investment in wind energy and in clean energy transmission is solid from an economic and an environmental perspective. The question is whether enough voices are engaged in all levels of the debate.

Established groups in the regulatory, planning and policy-making arenas often have their interests in mind. To counter this, rural citizens must engage in the debate. Engagement of farm and rural organizations, landowners, rural economic development groups, rural leaders and grassroots rural citizens in the policy and regulatory debate over clean energy is essential. We will work to make sure this opportunity is used in a way that works best for you.

For more information, contact Johnathan Hladik, johnathanh@cfra.org or 402.687.2100.