Rural Communities Benefit from Wind Energy's Continued Success
October 29, 2013
During the past decade, the wind energy industry has made significant strides. John Stulp, chairman of the Colorado Interbasin Compact Committee, says adding more wind to the United States' energy portfolio is very positive.
In 2007, Stulp said if it were up to him, every rural community would have a wind farm and every farm or ranch would have wind turbines. He stands by that statement.
"It's amazing how fast time has passed since the first turbines went in, but they continue to be very helpful economically to those farms and ranches that they're located on. They're still providing a tax base for the counties and local communities that they're in. And as we've seen additional development here in Colorado, additional communities as well as additional farms and ranches have been receiving a benefit from wind energy."
As director of the IBCC, Stulp discusses Colorado's future water needs with other individuals from each basin. As western states respond to an ongoing drought, he says water resources have to be managed in the best way possible.
"So when we look at energy production in the west, we have all forms of it, from fossil fuels to solar to wind. And the thing that's attractive about wind is that once you've poured the concrete for the foundation for the turbine, you're pretty much finished using water, as wind turbines do not have to use water for cooling like the other thermal electric-type plants do. We've had over 2,300 megawatts developed here in Colorado, and had we developed that from a different energy source, required a lot of cooling, why it would have taken a considerable amount of water for the cooling part of, you know, that size of production of electricity."
Since 2007, the United States has almost doubled its wind capacity, and Stulp says wind energy projects have been well received in his state.
"A number of different companies have been developing portions of these large wind farms. And of course it continues to employ a lot of people during the construction phase, and then a lot smaller workforce obviously after the completion of the project, to manage them and service them. Another outgrowth of the development in the rural communities is that Vestas has invested in 4 manufacturing plants here in Colorado. The employment's somewhere between 1,300 and 2,000 people."
Stulp says this outgrowth of wind energy has been helpful to rural economies due to the wind industry's continued success.