Rural Wind Windfalls
21 Pages Posted: 8 Aug 2014
Date Written: August 6, 2014
Wind power can provide rural communities with unexpected gains or “windfalls.” As one North Dakota farmer put it, “Who could have guessed that the air above our land might be worth money someday?” According to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), the amount of installed wind electricity capacity in the United States increased by a factor of 25 between 2000 and 2012. The United States is second, behind only China, for the most wind electricity capacity in the world.
In 2012, Kansas more than doubled its installed wind capacity by adding 1,441 MW to the 1,272 MW installed before that date. Now at a total of 2,713, Kansas ranks ninth in the United States for installed wind capacity. Even more potential exists for Kansas, as the state ranks in second place with the United States’ best terrestrial wind resource, and according to AWEA, Kansas has the potential to generate ninety times the state’s current electricity needs. Kansas also has a significant advantage in comparison to the majority of top wind resource states because it is located in the more energy-hungry of the North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC) interconnections, the Eastern Interconnection, which might aid it in becoming a net exporter of electricity.
Part I of this article provides a summary of the economic benefits of rural wind development. Part II then covers environmental benefits from wind power. Finally, Part III addresses wildlife disruption and conflicts with other development as two major concerns that may provide some of the greatest hurdles to successful wind development in rural Kansas and similar regions.
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