In the southwest corner of Minnesota - the Buffalo Ridge region - there is a productive and progressive wind industry that is not only providing clean energy, but also economic opportunity and prosperity to the local community. Communities are often resistant to the construction of wind farms because of the aesthetic effects on the natural environment. In Minnesota this has not been the case because the community itself is building and benefiting from the wind farms. In many cases, an outsider will enter a community with his/her own contractors, build a wind farm and leave, taking most of the financial benefits out of the community. How can this model be changed to ensure that local communities not only support the building of wind farms, but also reap most of the economic benefits?
Dan Juhl, president of Woodstock Wind Farm, will describe the process by which he leased land to create a wind farm in the Buffalo Ridge region of Minnesota. When the landowners noticed the profits that he was earning with his wind turbines, they enlisted his help and expertise to build their own. They installed two wind turbines and became the first farmer-owned commercial wind farm in the state. They certainly weren't the last. Now other farmers have joined forces to share the cost of installation, and within a year they recovered their initial investment. The community wind industry has grown so much in Minnesota in the last 10 years that Suzlon - India's number one blade manufacturer - has opened its first U.S. manufacturing facility in Pipestone, Minnesota, in the heart of Buffalo Ridge. The facility employs over 300 people, a number that will surely continue to grow as the current demand for blades in Minnesota is greater than Suzlon can produce.
Link to resources to conduct research on these topics.
NATIONAL STANDARDS FROM MCREL STANDARD
Standard 5.8: Understands how the use of domestic and commercial power and energy affects the environment
Standard 14.4: Understands how societal interests, economics, ergonomics, and environmental considerations influence a solution
Standard 16.3: Understands the role of research and development in the production of new or improved products, processes, and materials
Standard 17.6: Understands tradeoffs among characteristics such as safety, function, cost, ease of operation, quality of post-purchase support, and environmental impact when selecting systems for specific purposes
Standard 3.3: Knows that alternatives, risks, costs, and benefits must be considered when deciding on proposals to introduce new technologies or to curtail existing ones (e.g., Are there alternative ways to achieve the same ends? Who benefits and who suffers? What are the financial and social costs and who bears them? How serious are the risks and who is in jeopardy? What resources will be needed and where will they come from?)