Rural America embraces wind power

The Wall Street Journal has a new feature story out today, and it focuses on Benton County, Indiana. If that sounds familiar it’s because the town of Fowler, site of #AmericanWindWeek’s Fowler Wind Fair, lies in Benton County.

Home to about 8,600 people, Benton County also houses about half of Indiana’s installed wind capacity, and wind has attracted nearly $2 billion of investment into the area.

Here are a few notable findings from the Journal’s deep dive:

“Wind developers have made $17 million in payments to the county and have spent $33 million on roads, a boon for an economically struggling community that about a decade earlier considered hosting a waste dump to generate jobs and government revenue.

The wind farms took hundreds of construction workers to build, and created 110 permanent jobs, mostly wind technicians—in charge of servicing and maintaining wind turbines—who, according to federal data, earn about $51,500 a year in Indiana.

“Benton County didn’t see the recession until 2011,” said county commission president Bryan Berry, who has three turbines on his farmland. “The wind industry helped keep things open.”

As wind becomes a bigger part of the U.S. electricity mix, it is becoming an economic force in rural communities like Fowler, a development that is changing the political conversation around renewable energy in many parts of the country.”

You can read the full story here, and stay tuned for a new video that tells Fowler’s wind story.