“The more than $100 billion that companies have invested in wind power in low-income counties—where about 70 percent of wind farms are located—has helped double assessed land values in some of the poorest parts of rural America.”
In a recent report by Bloomberg Businessweek it noted that “Wind energy, the fastest-growing source of electricity in the U.S., is transforming low-income rural areas in ways not seen since the federal government gave land to homesteaders 150 years ago.”
For some farmers, turbines spin off six-figure incomes that have allowed them to retire from farming altogether. However, this windfall his highly dependent wind conditions, location, local zoning, setback requirements and a bit of luck. In Huron County Michigan, turbine projects and placement has pitted neighbor vs. neighbor and nasty exchanges in the township halls have ensued. While each lease is confidential, Bloomberg noted that landowners who sign lease agreements with wind companies typically get between $7,000 and $10,000 per turbine each year.
“Before, I raised corn and soybeans and cattle. Now I don’t. I’m a wind farmer.”
In an analysis of the article by Tina Casey she noted, “The full impact of new wind turbines on local communities is a bit more mixed than the article represents, but it does underscore how the wind industry is playing a critical role rural economic development — without the high risks and impacts of fossil fuel extraction.”