Clean Power

Published on March 25th, 2016 | by Joshua S Hill

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US Wind Energy Pays $222 Million Annually To Rural Landowners

March 25th, 2016 by  

The US wind energy industry is currently paying $222 million annually to rural landowners whose land supports wind farms, in turn supporting some of the most economically distressed communities in the US.

AWEA-26This is according to new data released this week by the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA), in advance of its 2015 US Wind Industry Annual Market Report, which is due for release in Denver, Colorado, on April 12. Further, $156 million of that total $222 million goes directly to landowners in counties with below average incomes.

“The rapid growth of wind energy largely benefits rural communities, including some of the most economically distressed parts of the US,” said Tom Kiernan, CEO of AWEA. “Wind farms pay $222 million dollars a year to U.S. farmers, ranchers, and other rural landowners, helping them to make ends meet, send their kids to college, or even keep that 100-year old ranch in the family. By continuing to grow this locally-made, drought-resistant cash crop, wind power can unleash even greater economic and water-saving benefits for these communities.”

Figures published by the AWEA overwhelmingly show that wind farms are operating in rural areas throughout the US, with around 70% of rural wind farms in the US located in low-income counties. Wind farms are also paying taxes that contribute to new revenue in local communities, benefiting schools, county and local services, libraries, hospitals, and public safety facilities. Oklahoma wind farms, for example, are paying over $1 billion in property taxes to counties and local schools over their lifespan. In Ohio, a single wind farm is the largest taxpayer in one county, adding over $400,000 a year in new revenue to the local school, and even helping to supply over 900 new computers.

Landowners in six states are currently receiving over $10 million dollars a year in lease payments, with Texas ranked number one, followed by Iowa, California, Oklahoma, Illinois, and Kansas. Landowners in 26 additional different states are receiving over $1 million. In the end, the share of wind development in rural areas represents more than $101 billion in wind farm investment.

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“The wind farm allowed us to be able to keep our family farm,” said Jason Wilson from Calhan, Colorado. “We had come to a point where it no longer made financial sense to keep the property even with its vast sentimental value. The wind farm balanced the financial viability with the sentimental value, allowing the family farm to continue to be passed on to the next generation.”

“To me wind energy means that this farm land will pretty much stay in our hands,” said Keith Mueggenborg, Oklahoma landowner.

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About the Author

I'm a Christian, a nerd, a geek, and I believe that we're pretty quickly directing planet-Earth into hell in a handbasket! I also write for Fantasy Book Review (.co.uk), and can be found writing articles for a variety of other sites. Check me out at about.me for more.



  • iso

    Nice article Joshua. You could also mention that typical onshore wind farms in the US take up only ~5% of the farmer’s land – allowing them to go right on farming around the turbines. Also as you know these are leases – so the land still belongs to the farmer. Few farmers could afford to retire on lease payments – rather its a buffer to their annual budget allowing them to stave off financial pressure in a bad farming year – invest in new and more efficient equipment (to the benefit of companies like John Deere) and perhaps even choose to farm products that feed the country and the world instead of the cash crop of the day incentivised by the market. Largely due to the wind industry, long forgotten about communities are again becoming great places to live with good jobs and tax base to support services, facilities and infrastructure. It’s a real, live heartland regeneration – the urban life isn’t for everyone! Nobody was going to build any industry in these places – wind is their only large scale opportunity. Farming and the food supply are a matter of national and global security – to say nothing of clean, quiet and in my humble opinion beautiful and majestic power generation. The public need to be informed and understand winds contribution to support our farming community – so thank you so much for your article.

  • Jens Stubbe

    Slang for wind turbines in Denmark is “Pengetræer”, which translates into Money Trees. In Denmark too the income goes to poor parts of the country that we have to transfer huge sums to anyway. So if it was not for Money Trees the migration and the social problems would be far larger. Also the majority of the wind industry jobs are situated in poor parts of the country. Going forward the hope is that the expansion of wind power will take to the seas around Denmark and in particular to the North Sea that could deliver electricity to all europeans including electrifying the entire transport sector.

    I noticed that for the past decade USA has seven doubled the installed capacity just as the rest of the world has done. Let us hope that this trajectory can be kept because if the entire world keep the trend then wind will produce as much electricity by 2031 from wind as the world did in total by 2014.

    • Foersom

      I see you have ditched the Apple PC, so that you again can write Danish letters. 😉

    • Foersom

      I see you have ditched the Apple PC, so that you again can write Danish letters. 😉

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