Sunday, May 2, 2010

Wind Farms and the Rural Economy

One of the first aspects of alternative energy that I'm interested in exploring on this blog is wind power. With the news of the approval of the new Cape Cod wind project by the Obama Administration, as well as knowing individuals involved in the manufacturing of wind turbines, this is certainly a very timely topic. However, in the reading I've done to this point, I've noticed that much of the mainstream media seems to focus on the larger projects - wind farms in Europe, the Massachusetts project, and others of immense size seem to draw the most attention. I haven't seen - and again, my exploration is just beginning - much in the way of an examination of smaller wind farms and wind projects.

Today, however, I heard a report on National Public Radio about a former cotton farmer in West Texas who is now branching out into wind farming. From what I have gathered through the report and the accompanying slide show, his home town is a very economically depressed area - which leads to a question: how much of an economic impact can wind farming make? Yes, there are short-term construction jobs, and undoubtedly wind farmers themselves will make a fair amount of money once the turbines are all fully operational. But what long-term benefits can be derived from these sorts of projects for the communities where they are sited?

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