Volume 19, No.2, Summer 2001

Blowing in the Wind


For generations, families who settles on the prairies and plains of the
great mid-section of the United States have done battle with the wind. It has
scoured their fields, flattened their crops, and sent icy fingers under the
doorways of their homes. But what was once a bane has suddenly become a boon.
Brokers are working their way across the Midwest and parts of West Texas
offering cash for wind rights.

Wind is the nation’s fastest-growing source of electricity and the capacity
is expected to double within the next year. Utility companies are stepping on
each other in their efforts to sign up farmers who are willing to plant a crop
of sleek, 200-foot-tall turbines in their fields along with the usual corn and
soybeans. In fact, some farmers have discovered that selling their wind rights
is a whole lot more profitable than raising crops. And even better, they can
sit on the front porch and watch the blades spin rather than hunker down over
a tractor in the hot sun yet still put money in the bank.

In Minnesota, farmers can earn about $2,000 a year per turbine, which
takes up about one-eighth of an acre. Crops grown on the same fields clear
about $40 an acre.


New York Times

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