A new Bloomberg article, written by Jennifer Oldham, highlights the importance of wind energy to farmers and rural communities in the United States.
As the article states: ‘commodity prices threaten to reach decade lows and farmers struggle to meet debt payments, wind has become the newest cash crop, saving family farms across a wide swath of the heartland.’
Some wind energy projects have even allowed farmers to retire from farming completely, as one fifth-generation Iowa farmer, Ed Woolsley remarked “One turbine has changed my life. Before, I raised corn and soybeans and cattle. Now I don’t. I’m a wind farmer.”
According to Oldham’s article: Warren Buffett’s MidAmerican Energy is negotiating with landowners for leases to build a $3.58 billion series of wind farms across Iowa, the largest economic development in state history. Land agents are also in discussions with hundreds of farmers who stand to profit from $1 billion in new projects planned by Alliant Energy.
Wind energy developers have realized the value of supporting farmers, landowners and local communities with wind projects that will provide income or support local ventures and people. Communities are welcoming of projects that will benefit them now and in the future.
According to an American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) blog, “99.9 percent of wind projects are located in rural areas, and 70 percent are located in low-income counties. In 2015, wind projects paid $222 million in lease payments to landowners for hosting wind turbines. These lease payments act as drought resistant cash crops, providing a stable source of income. Additionally, the wind industry has invested more than $101 billion, cumulatively, in low-income, rural communities.”