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Farmers and wind energy
Farmers share in the general public's interest in producing
energy from the wind. A few
farmers may want to "get off the grid,” that is, rely on their own wind
turbine to generate farm power and disconnect the power lines from the electric
utility company. Many see wind
energy as a clean and environmentally friendly alternative to carbon based
energy sources. Most are probably
interested in the income they can generate by owning wind turbines or leasing
their land to a wind power company.
Most utility companies will now buy electrical power from persons with
A farmer interested in learning about wind energy
opportunities can find information from state university extension programs on
the world wide web. http://www.extension.org/pages/Wind_Energy_for_Homeowners,_Farmers_and_S... Another source of information may be
your local electrical utility company. The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) web site has both
references and educational materials.
Industrial scale wind turbines may cost $50,000 and
more. They stand as much as 300
feet high and require extensive infrastructure and management. Zoning and government permission
are likely necessary.
Environmentalists, aviators, bird lovers and local residents may oppose
wind towers. Finally, if the wind
does not blow adequately the costs of installation may never be covered. Therefore, many farmers may elect to
work with a power generating company and restrict their involvement to leasing
a tower site.
Experience with pipelines, highline towers and roads has
most farmers sensitive to working with utility companies. According to farmers in
Agriculture.com Farm Business
Talk, wind companies do not publicize their site lease terms and payment schedule and discourage farmers
from sharing the information.
Farmers may not be familiar with the terms of a fair site lease. For these reasons, most farmers in Farm
Business Talk strongly recommend you retain a lawyer who is experienced in this
field. Further, they urge you to
learn all you can about your rights and responsibilities. In addition to the resources mentioned
earlier, it may be valuable to talk to local friends and fellow farmers with
Not all geographical areas are suitable for commercial wind
farms. Your state or the DOE web site will show you the best areas and tell you
how to collect information on your own farm to see if you have a suitable site. Some areas along the U.S. coast have
favorable winds. The biggest area
includes the states in the north-south tier east of the Rocky Mountains.