Powering Rural America’s Economy Through Wind Energy

From 11 to 17 August, it’s American Wind Week and we will celebrate the important impacts of this clean power across the country. Wind power is well known as an eco-friendly energy source—it prevented 201 million metric tons of CO2 from entering the atmosphere in 2018—and we’re proud to have 24 wind farms in 10 states producing 4,516 MW of clean energy.

But another crucial benefit of wind farms is what they bring to rural communities. Since farms and ranch fields are often ideal spaces for wind turbines, windfarms connect the countryside of states like Kansas, Nebraska, Oklahoma and Texas to new jobs in the fast-growing industry.

What’s more, we’re committed to helping train people for careers in the clean energy economy and supporting education in the communities where we work, to help inspire the next generation who will power the clean energy economy.

Wind Farms Benefit Landowners and Farmers

Farmers and landowners reap steady benefits from wind farms—and can continue to grow crops at the same time since a typical wind farm leaves 98 percent of the land free to be used for farming .

Leasing land to windfarms means that farmers have a sustained income, which can protect them from fluctuations in crop prices, global supply and demand, and droughts. In some cases, windfarm leases have even prevented farm closures, allowing farmers to continue a family tradition by investing in new equipment and important upgrades.

For instance, Joe Bush lives in Osage County, Oklahoma, and has been a cattle rancher for 30 years. He leased his land for our Osage wind project and found that the lease payments became an important source of financial stability.

“It’s given me some economic breathing room just to hang on. Wind farms and the prospect of wind farms allow people to still be able to make a living and still have a community.”

– Joe Bush, Landowner (Oklahoma)

Delivering Careers for The Future

Besides steady income for residents leasing land, wind farms bring crucial economic activity to rural areas through valuable employment opportunities.

Jobs in urban areas have grown more than three times faster than in rural areas , and often employment in rural areas is concentrated in dwindling industries such as coal mining . Wind farms in rural areas offer a crucial lifeline, since coal miners that have been laid off can be retrained for jobs in wind energy.

What’s more, our wind engineers enjoy what they do:

“I love the people I work with. I love the work that we do. I feel like it’s good for the planet. It’s good for my family. It’s good for the community.”

– Austin Jones, Wind Site Supervisor at Enel Green Power

And when windfarms are being created, construction jobs in rural areas soar—since 2016 we’ve been responsible for more than 3,500 construction jobs —boosting rural economies so often in need. 

Inspiring the Younger Community

When we partner with communities on our clean energy projects, we want to make sure everyone can see the benefits. This means paying special attention to education and inspiring the next generation of wind energy workers.

Take Allen, Nebraska for instance, where our Rattlesnake Creek wind farm and financial support for a local school have inspired students to think about careers in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics):

In Kansas, we sponsored the KidWind challenge, where middle- and high-school students design and test their own turbines, helping them get excited about wind energy and hopefully setting them on the path for a successful career.

We also hold similar events in Oklahoma, where one instructor had this to say: 

“We’re able to go out into the classrooms, and community, to hold this event, and Enel is one of our supporters allowing us to do that. And it’s not just from a financial standpoint…The Enel personnel show up in the classroom and the techs show up in the classroom, they show up at community events, and provide hands-on help.”

– Kathy Jackson, an instructor at KidWind, Oklahoma

Our commitments to rural communities go beyond simply building our wind farms. We strive to be good employers, good partners, and good corporate citizens as we support the people that make our wind power possible.