Farmers and other residents of the two Michigan counties experiencing the most growth of wind power praise those newly established resources from a variety of perspectives.
Their kudos, voiced in the Yale Climate Connections monthly “This is Not Cool” video, come along with similarly favorable reviews of the wind power experience from a University of Michigan researcher. Sara Mills, PhD, found in her research that farmers with wind turbines on their property are more likely to pass their farm lands on to their children or develop alternative succession plans rather than succumb to the lure of development and sprawl. Mills found also that Huron and Gratiot County farmers with wind energy on their land are twice as likely to continue investing in their homes and property as farmers lacking wind energy resources.
For those committed to farmland conservation programs, Mills said, wind farms and wind turbines help keep farmers living on their farm lands, help attract and retain younger people, and help provide diversified funding streams.
A Michigan Public Services Commission official says the agency in 2008 was “ecstatic” when it was looking at wind energy expenses in the range of $115 per megawatt hour, considered then to be “a wonderful price.” Currently wind energy bids are coming in at as low as $45 per megawatt hour.
The former director of the state’s energy, labor and economic growth program says that in a period of just two years, the state’s two top wind energy counties, Huron and Gratiot, got $45 million in wind energy tax revenues to support townships and community programs involving education and other services.
Speaking on behalf of the Michigan Energy Innovation Business Council, another Michigander says 71 of the nation’s top-100 Fortune 500 companies have aggressive wind and renewable energy ambitions. She singled-out “home-grown” companies like Michigan-based automakers General Motors and Ford, Dow Chemical, and office furniture manufacturers Steelcase and Herman Miller. She scoffed at the notion that major companies nowadays might boast in a press release about having a goal as modest as a 15 percent commitment to renewable energy.
While research in the two Michigan counties appears to point to property value benefits for farmers with wind farms or turbines, it’s not clear that that experience is true across the board. Pointing to research done on the economic impacts of wind power resources on property values nationally, a Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory researcher says the analyses point to neither a positive nor a negative impact on property values.