New revenue source helps rancher through cyclical nature of cattle business
Wind energy can be as dependable and resilient as a Wyoming cattle rancher. Frame by frame, the bare images tell it all: black-on-white shots of cattle grazing on the wind-whipped landscape, a pickup truck lumbering by wind turbines that are barely visible in spite of being just a few yards away, and a pair of dogs, lingering at the feet of a trio of family ranchers. Accompanying the insightful comments offered by rancher Shaun Sims, a howling Wyoming wind provides the soundtrack throughout the 90-second video.
The impact of wind power on Sims’s family ranch in Wyoming is the subject of the latest segment on WindTV, the American Wind Energy Association’s (AWEA) recently launched vehicle to highlight how wind works for America. All across America, wind farms provide an added source of revenue for farmers and ranchers through land lease payments. With wind turbines taking up a small fraction of land space, farmers and ranchers can continue to work the land while the wind above provides an additional source of income and fuels the production of clean electricity. For Sims, who operates the cattle and sheep ranch with his father and brother, wind power has provided a stabilizing revenue stream to help balance out the notoriously up-and-down nature of the ranching and farming business.
“The income coming off of the wind farm has been a huge benefit as far as being able to withstand those down times in the cattle and sheep markets, and it has helped improve our standard of living,” says Sims. “That wind is going to blow in 30 years just like it does today.”
Wind power, in fact, has helped Sims expand his business, allowing him to bring more family members into ranching. “What the wind farm has done is allow us to continue to ranch,” says Sims, a fifth-generation rancher. He expresses hope that his grandkids will be able to share in the work and life associated with the profession.
The power of wind to bring new life to great American professions like ranching and farming, however, could stall if the federal Production Tax Credit (PTC) for wind energy is not extended. The PTC is scheduled to expire at the end of next year, and already developers are freezing plans for new projects. By passing an extension of the PTC, Congress will save American jobs currently in danger of being shipped overseas and help the wind industry support 500,000 American jobs by 2030, as envisioned by the U.S. Department of Energy during the George W. Bush administration. A recently released study found that with stable tax policy the wind industry can grow to almost 100,000 American jobs in the next four years, including growing the wind manufacturing sector by one third to 46,000 American manufacturing jobs.
“The story of the Sims family business epitomizes how wind power is as American as Wyoming ranching,” said AWEA CEO Denise Bode. “All across America wind power is providing stable revenue to farmers and ranchers. Congress needs to allow the wind industry to keep doing what it does best—create affordable, homegrown energy and income for everyday Americans. It can do this by passing an extension of wind’s primary federal policy driver, the Production Tax Credit.”
WindTV is a showcase of video profiles of Americans whose lives have been positively impacted by the wind energy industry. The site, located at www.awea.org/windtv, features a different video profile each week.
To view the segment on Sims and how wind power and ranching go together in Wyoming, go to WindTV.
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