New York Times features museum benefiting from wind power

"A Museum Turns Wind into Gold" was the headline of a recent New York Times story focusing on the Maryhill Museum of Goldendale, Wash.–an institution that was also previously the subject of an AWEA WindTV segment.

According to William Yardley of The Times, "[I]n addition to a sculpture garden featuring artists of the Pacific Northwest, Maryhill’s grounds—all 5,300 acres of them—now include 15 wind turbines, part of a vast installation that sends 500 megawatts of electricity to Los Angeles and about $250,000 each year into the operating revenues of one of the most isolated art museums in the contiguous United States.

"Maryhill raised the money for the addition through public and private grants—no small feat given its size and location and the challenges facing arts institutions—but museum officials say revenue from leasing its land for wind energy provided the confidence and financial security to proceed with the capital campaign at a time when the number of visitors, about 45,000 a year, is well below its peak in the 1990s."

Maryhill’s success is just one example, although admittedly a unique one, of the ways in which rural communities around the U.S. are benefiting from the income generated by wind power. In many areas, tax revenues from wind farms are providing a welcome source of funds for school districts and struggling towns and counties at a time when the national economy remains very sluggish.

What Jim Foster, a past Maryhill president, told The Times about the 20-year lease the museum has arranged with a wind farm developer applies to many of those communities: "Essentially, it’s an endowment. It really gave us the freedom to go forward.”

Tom Gray,