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Over the last two decades, the U.S. wind industry has grown dramatically and is providing communities across America with tremendous benefits. More than 50,000 megawatts of wind power – the power equivalent of thirteen Hoover Dams – are installed in the United States. In a change to our usual regional focus on a single state, we are drilling down to see how the wind energy industry is affecting American communities at a local level, as we take a look at Livingston County in Illinois…

American companies such as General Electric dominate the global wind turbine industry, and in almost every state are expanding to meet the increasing global demand for wind power. This article shows how wind power is rebuilding individual communities in America, while creating much-needed jobs, reducing pollution that harms our children’s health, and cutting our dependence on dirty and limited fossil fuels.

Americans like wind power and want our country to support even greater deployment of this clean, renewable resource.

In some surveys, nine out of 10 voters say they support efforts to increase wind-power generation, and two-thirds of Americans say they think clean energy technologies, such as wind power, will be an important source of economic growth in the future.

Surprisingly, while the benefits of a well-sited wind project or expanding wind manufacturer can be significant – from new jobs and local worker training programs to increased city tax revenues and more school funding – they are often overlooked or underestimated. In an attempt to show fully the real-world benefits of the wind industry, this article focuses on the benefits to a single community; that of Livingston County, Illinois, drawing from accounts of the actual residents from the community.

When Streator Cayuga Ridge South Wind Farm began operation in March 2010, it became Illinois’s largest wind project. Located in Livingston County, between the townships of Odell and Emington, the farm consists of 150 separate 2 MW wind turbines. In addition to providing enough clean, renewable energy to power more than 90,000 homes, the 300 MW wind farm offers a range of economic and social benefits to surrounding communities.

Iberdrola Renewables, the project developer, pays approximately $1.2 million in annual royalty payments to landowners. Each turbine occupies less than a half an acre of land, but brings in an average of $8,000 per year, helping many landowners remain financially secure while still continuing their farming practices.

 

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