Wind farms represent rural economic development with the primary benefit of long-term stable income (no fluctuations compared to commodity prices) to the landowner. Representative numbers are for a wind farm (30 MW or greater) using capacity factors of 30% in wind class 3 and 35% in wind class 4. A 50 MW wind farm would require 1,200 ha (1 ha = 2.5 acres), which can include ten to thirty landowners. Around 1-3% of the land is removed from production, primarily for roads. The return on land removed from previous use is around $10,000-16,000/ha/year, a much greater return per hectare than farming or ranching. In contrast to oil and gas leases, the return to the landowner is less from wind farms; however, there is the big advantage of a nonde-pletable resource.

The rural economic development also includes construction and then operation. During construction there will be 100-200 jobs for 4-8 months, around 1 man-year per MW. The administration and operation and maintenance of wind farms results in ten to fourteen full- time jobs per 100 MW. This shows why state legislatures and local entities are now promoting wind power, and also promoting the manufacturing of turbines and components in their state.

The Colorado Green Wind Power Project near Lamar, Colorado, is an example. Construction started in the summer of 2003. The 162 MW project consists of 108 GE wind turbines (1.5 MW) on a lease of 4,450 ha from fourteen landowners. The footprint from the wind farm is about 2% of the land. During construction there were 200 to 300 jobs, and after completion, there were around 15 local jobs. The wind farm pays around $2 million per year in property taxes. After construction, the project was purchased for $212 million by Shell Wind and PPM Energy from GE Wind.

Renewable Energy 101

Renewable Energy 101

Renewable energy is energy that is generated from sunlight, rain, tides, geothermal heat and wind. These sources are naturally and constantly replenished, which is why they are deemed as renewable. The usage of renewable energy sources is very important when considering the sustainability of the existing energy usage of the world. While there is currently an abundance of non-renewable energy sources, such as nuclear fuels, these energy sources are depleting. In addition to being a non-renewable supply, the non-renewable energy sources release emissions into the air, which has an adverse effect on the environment.

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