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Harnessing Wind is Powerful, Profitable Venture

Harnessing Wind is Powerful, Profitable Venture

MU experts help town become first in nation to run solely on wind energy

COLUMBIA, Mo. –It is an unusual crop for a Missouri town, but farmers in Rock Port are busy using 75 turbines across three counties to harvest the wind. Four wind turbines supply all the electricity to the small town of just more than 1,300 residents. It is the first in the United States to operate solely on wind power. University of Missouri Extension specialists said that this demonstrates the excellent opportunities for sustainable wind power in northwest Missouri.

“That’s something to be very proud of, especially in a rural area like this—that we’re doing our part for the environment,” said Jim Crawford, MU Extension natural resource engineer. “Anybody who is currently using Rock Port utilities can expect no increase in rates for the next 15 to 20 years.”

A map published by the U.S. Department of Energy indicates that northwest Missouri has the state’s highest concentration of wind resources and contains a number of locations potentially suitable for utility-scale wind development.

“We’re farming the wind, which is something that we have up here,” Crawford said. “The payback on a per-acre basis is generally quite good when compared to a lot of other crops, and it’s as simple as getting a cup of coffee and watching the blades spin.”

MU Extension specialists said the wind farms will bring in more than $1.1 million annually in county real estate taxes, to be paid by Wind Capital Group, a wind energy developer based in St. Louis.

“This is a unique situation because in rural areas it is quite uncommon to have this increase in taxation revenues,” said Jerry Baker, MU Extension community development specialist.

The alternative energy source also benefits landowners, who can make anywhere from $3,000 to $5,000 leasing part of their property for wind turbines.

“It’s a savings for the community in general, savings for the rural electric companies, and it provides electricity service for at least a 20-year time period, which is the anticipated life of these turbines,” Baker said.

Baker said the wind turbines also attract many visitors, adding tourism revenue to the list of benefits.