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Farms Plan to Harness Wind Energy

It started as just an idea, but now the thought of a wind farm in mid-Missouri could become a reality.

Mark Chamberlin is a chicken and dairy farmer who originally had the idea to put a wind turbine on his property.

“You always have a lot of time to think when you’re in tractors,” Chamberlin said. “The wind is always blowing here.”

Chamberlin operates a farm in northern Benton County, atop a ridge that sits above the rest of Missouri. In fact, the top of one of his silos is the tallest point in Benton County. It was this elevation combined with the windy climate that made him think he could make some extra money. Since then, Chamberlin’s plan has expanded into a possible 3,000-megawatt wind farm spanning 20,000 acres.

“We stand a good chance and the better job we do putting this together, I think we can bring [a wind farm] to central Missouri,” Chamberlin said.

So far, about 60 farmers have agreed to take part in the wind farm, committing 16,000 acres of the group’s goal – 20,000 acres. Last week, the community met in the town of Cole Camp to discuss the possibility of a wind farm. Chamberlin says they had a very positive response. In fact, the group has had the community on its mind the entire time.

“We’re trying hard to bring companies into the community and create more jobs,” Luke Jernigan, who helped plan the wind farm with Chamberlin, said. “That’s why I got on board this. My wife, she kind of challenged us around Christmastime to see what we could do for the community so I saw this as an opportunity to create jobs.”

The group is now meeting with power companies interested in the land, and the farmers are considering setting up a co-op or limited liability corporation so they can work with the power companies together.

“We’ll just see what kind of proposals they have to offer us,” Chamberlin said. “Then we’ll take them back to the whole group.”

The group will meet again Feb. 18.