Rock Port depends for power on the Loess Hills Wind Farm with its four Suzlon 1.25-megawatt wind turbines developed by the Wind Capital Group of St. Louis. John Deere Wind Energy in Kansas City handled the financing.
The electricity generated by the wind farm is transmitted to Rock Port Municipal Utilities, which distributes to customers in town.
A double rainbow appears during construction of the Loess Hills Wind Farm. (Photo courtesy Wind Capital Group)
University of Missouri Extension specialist Jim Crawford says, "We're farming the wind, which is something that we have up here."
"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 the natural resource engineer.
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.
"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," Crawford 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.
"This is a unique situation because in rural areas it is quite uncommon to have this increase in taxation revenues," said Jerry Baker, University of Missouri 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.
And for ratepayers, the wind turbines are easy on their wallets. "Anybody who is currently using Rock Port utilities can expect no increase in rates for the next 15 to 20 years."
The wind farm is sized to provide enough electricity over the course of a typical year to match electricity consumption in the town. The Missouri Public Utility Alliance in Columbia will purchase excess electricity from Loess Hills when the output from the wind power plant exceeds what Rock Port residents use.
Copyright Environment News Service (ENS) 2008. All rights reserved.