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The millions that a wind farm gives to its community

The millions that a wind farm gives to its community
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Industry advocates often talk about wind farms contributing revenue to local communities, so it’s nice to hear specific and tangible examples of wind power at work on the ground (that is, as opposed to 80-plus meters in the air, working to generate clean electrons).  So here’s one.

In Ohio Iberdrola Renewables, along with State Senator Cliff Hite and State Representative Tony Burkley, this week presented checks to local officials in both Van Wert and Paulding counties to commemorate the first of the annual payments the wind power company’s Blue Creek Wind Farm will be making to the counties.

Speaking of tangible examples, it’s interesting to take a look at both the sheer dollars contributed as well as how those funding levels are calculated (usually by number of turbines).


Photo credit: Iberdrola Renewables

Iberdrola injected Van Wert County, which hosts 115 turbines, with over $2 million, making the wind farm the largest single taxpayer in the county. That figure, in fact, is equal to the current top 11 revenue contributors combined as of 2012. Wind farms often generate revenue for communities that need it most, and so the statistic concerning the top 11 revenue contributors is a case in point. Paulding County, meanwhile, received $666,000, based on the 37 turbines located in the county that each pay $18,000 per year.

As the wind farm is spread across two counties, six townships – Tully, Union, and Hoaglin in Van Wert County and Benton, Blue Creek and Latty in Paulding County – and four school districts, the project’s contributions to localities will be spread far and wide. The townships will each see an average of $1,400 per year per turbine. With 76 wind turbines, Union Township will see a revenue boost of 25-30 percent in 2014 compared to 2013.

“These funds support projects and services that benefit everyone across the region, from schools, public safety and public health programs, to road repairs,” said State Representative Tony Burkley (R-Payne). “It’s great to see this kind of investment in northwest Ohio, and it’s better to see the benefits have such a positive impact on the people who live and work here.”

The school districts will see the lion’s share of revenue. With 81 turbines spinning within its boundaries, Crestview Schools will see about $850,000 per year in new revenue, a boost of about 10 percent.

“This is my 40th year in education and I don’t think I have ever seen a source of revenue like this offer itself to a school district like this,” said Crestview Superintendent Mike Estes. “It’s really a windfall for us.”

Now, just imagine the additional community revenue trickling through from the 500 jobs created during construction, the $25 million spurred in local spending, the 30 local companies that worked on the project, et cetera et cetera. Those are some good, tangible benefits. And we haven’t even begun to talk about what the wind farm is built for, the product it will give the region: clean, fuel-free electrons.

As a footnote, here are some extra-curricular initiatives Iberdrola has sponsored in the community:

Flat Rock Creek Festival

Friends of the Paulding Chamber, Inc.

Iberdrola Renewables Scholarship Fund administered by the Van Wert County Foundation

John Paulding Historical Society

Paulding County Youth Baseball

Van Wert County Convention and Visitors’ Bureau’s Rib Fest

Van Wert County Historical Society

Van Wert Elementary School book fair

Van Wert County Junior Fair

Vantage Career Center

Village of Convoy Fire Department

Iberdrola is not unique among developers in its good-neighbor giving. First Wind, for example, is just one name that comes to mind for reaching out to the community in multiple ways. Does your company have some community-participation information you’d like to share? If so, email clevesque@awea.org.

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Carl has been a part of the AWEA team since 2006. He brings both his expertise in communications as well as experience with the evolving wind energy industry to the job of overseeing AWEA's online and written publications including the Wind Energy Weekly, WINDPOWER Update, WINDPOWER Today, and various print materials. He has worked as a journalist in the energy industry as a staff writer for Public Utilities Fortnightly magazine and in the association sector as senior editor at Association Management magazine. He also has covered the home-building industry, where his areas of greatest interest were sustainable development and "smart growth," and has written articles for numerous other publications as a freelance writer. Carl received his B.A. from James Madison University and spent some time in New Orleans employed as a teacher as well as working with homeless youth.

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