In Sherman County, Oregon, just south of the Columbia River Gorge, the howling winds are attracting more than just kiteboarders and windsurfers these days. They're also blowing in money. Hundreds of wind turbines now stretch across the farm landscape, generating clean energy for power lines — and cash for county coffers.
In the New York Times, Lee Van der Voo writes:
Sherman County, which earned $315,000 in property taxes from the first wind farm in 2002, raked in $3 million from wind farms in 2010. The bounty, while mostly flowing to the farmers who lease their land for the turbines, also benefits the public. Taxes, fees and assessments on more than 1,000 megawatts of wind turbine capacity have brought $17.5 million in nine years to a county with just 1,735 residents.
With agricultural profit margins being squeezed by increasing costs, wind energy projects are providing an important income boost for Sherman County farmers.
“We absolutely hated waking up some days because the wind blows all the time,” said Kathy McCullough, who settled on a farm in the area 23 years ago. “It’s like living in a wind tunnel. You can see how the pioneer women went crazy out here. Now you wake up and the wind is blowing and it’s like, yes!”