Community Wind Power Hattiesburg MS
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Community Wind Power
T. Boone Pickens discussed his $10 billion plan to erect 2,700 wind turbines across the Texas panhandle, a project that will generate enough electricity to power about one million homes, in a recent interview with The Guardian (U.K.). Pickens, founder of Mesa Petroleum and bona fide oil tycoon, presumably doesn’t have any big plans for Earth Day: “Don’t get the idea that I’ve turned green,” he told his interviewer.
Big money is excited about wind energy , which is promising for the future of the renewable energy industry. But what about smaller investors? Is 21st century energy technology doomed to be controlled by billionaire investors? Absolutely not.
Wind power is moving closer to home Pickens’ windy ambitions rely on leasing the lands of rural farmers to use as sites for his wind turbines . However, in a growing trend, local communities are passing on the land lease option and are instead taking on ownership of the turbines themselves. The key feature of community wind, as it has been dubbed, is that “local community members have a significant, direct financial stake in the project beyond just land lease payments and tax revenue,” according to Windustry. Typically, those involved in a joint-ownership include local farmers, schools, utilities, businesses and investors. Because all of these participants have an incentive to improve the areas where they live, it is no surprise that community wind provides many social benefits to those within proximity.
Given that community wind is defined as any scenario in which one or more local investor has a considerable financial stake in the ownership of nearby wind turbines, there are infinite ways in which these projects can be structured. Some are created as partnerships with utilities, corporations or other organizations, in which case the financial hurdle to become an investor is usually lower. Other times, individual investors take on more financial responsibility and consequently enjoy more control and rewards associated with the energy produced. The structuring of these agreements is important because it can have drastic effects on which tax breaks can be utilized. Details on ownership structures and their benefits and drawbacks can be found in this 2006 study conducted at the University of Minnesota .
In an economic utopia, individual investors of all income levels would participate in ownership of their local renewable energy production, allowing them to acquire a share that would cover their individual social costs and return a proportional social benefit. The logistics of this scenario are unrealistic, but the underlying idea is simply an exaggerated depiction of energy independence. The standard two-megawatt wind turbine can produce enough electricity to power 600 average American homes, so why don’t 600 households simply bundle enough f...