Carr and his wife Darcy were once visitors to the ranch, and they liked it so much, they bought the business, which is both an operating ranch with cattle and a tourist destination. Today, the land is also host to a wind farm. Their business is featured on the latest segment of WindTV, the American Wind Energy Association’s vehicle to highlight how wind works for America.
“I’m not a granola eater,” says Tom Carr with characteristic Western straightforwardness. “As you can see by my waistline, I’m a meat-and-potatoes kind of guy, and conservative by nature. People, whether you’re a Republican, Democrat, Libertarian, Green Party—it doesn’t matter. I think that we all have a vested interest in our future, and the future of our children, and our children’s children.”
But with wind power’s key federal incentive — the Production Tax Credit (PTC) – expiring, this future and thousands of good Colorado jobs are at risk. Wind power currently generates as many as 6,000 Colorado jobs, but a recent national study has shown jobs numbers would be cut in half and private investment dollars would drop by two thirds if Congress fails to act and the PTC expires.
“Wind power has rapidly become a part of the landscape and economic fabric of rural communities across the U.S.,” said AWEA CEO Denise Bode. “We are fighting today to keep that success story going and asking Congress to extend the PTC now, before it is too late.”
A bipartisan group of Colorado’s Congressional Delegation joined in this push last week with a letter to Senator Max Baucus, Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, and Representative Dave Camp, Chairman of the house Committee on Ways and Means, to include a PTC extension in any deal that emerges from the current payroll tax negotiations.
Meanwhile, the Carr family has found a good neighbor in wind power. At the time he bought the ranch, Carr had something important to consider, particularly given that he was buying a business that hosted guests seeking a traditional Western experience. Specifically, a yet-to-be built wind farm would soon be part of the landscape. So Carr surveyed every guest he could find to get their thoughts on the coming wind farm. Feedback, he says, was 100 percent positive, and the developer was eager to be a good neighbor and address any concerns he had.
The outcome: Old West and New West have become the perfect match. Turbines now dot the landscape, the visitors are as happy as ever, and the cattle are many. Wind farms commonly occupy land that’s also used for farming and ranching, making it the ideal partner in many rural communities. Wind farms also help support rural economies through lease payments. In Colorado alone, those lease payments total $5.4 million a year.
“There’s really a small footprint that those turbines leave,” says Carr. “It’s not going to affect our cattle numbers.” All along the wind industry members have been “well aware of what we do here. They’re working very well with us.”
WindTV is a showcase of video profiles of Americans whose lives have been positively impacted by the wind energy industry. The site, located at www.awea.org/windtv, features a different video profile each week.
To hear more about how wind power has been a positive force at the Colorado Cattle Co., and how the clean, affordable, homegrown energy source is generating good jobs in America, go to WindTV.
By Carl Levesque, American Wind Energy Association Editor & Publications Manager, www.awea.org/blog/