Fast Company magazine — which is more Silicon Valley than Great Plains — has published a story headlined “Can Wind Power a Rural Renaissance?” Reporter Melanie Warner counts up the year leases paid to ranchers near Sweetwater, Texas, by wind companies and finds that the turbines give “the town the sort of solid economic development American rural communities desperately need.”
Warner counts the benefits. The turbines pay local property taxes, adding $23.7 million to the budgets of the county’s school districts. (Each is now building a new facility.) The turbines are so big, they have to be pieced together and serviced locally, jobs that pay up to $20 or $30 an hour. And then there are the leases. One rancher had 13 turbines on his land and collected $52,000 a year.
But, she warns, “If wind is going to power a rural renaissance, policy makers in Washington must put in place a strategy to fund the building of new electricity transmission lines that will connect more rural areas to big population centers where most energy is consumed.” The cost of building these lines could top $60 bil