Economic Development Studies
A Comparative Analysis of Business Structures Suitable for Farmer-Owned Wind Power Projects in the United States (November 2004) was prepared for the Wind & Hydropower Technologies Program, U.S. Department of Energy, by Mark Bolinger and Ryan Wise.
For years, farmers in the United States have looked with envy on their European counterparts' ability to profitably farm the wind through ownership of distributed, utility-scale wind projects. Only within the past few years, however, has farmer- or community-owned wind power development become a reality in the United States. The primary hurdle to this type of development in the United States has been devising and implementing suitable business and legal structures that enable such projects to take advantage of tax-based federal incentives for wind power. This article discusses the limitations of such incentives in supporting farmer- or community-owned wind projects, describes four ownership structures that potentially overcome such limitations, and finally conducts comparative financial analysis on those four structures, using as an example a hypothetical 1.5 MW farmer-owned project located in the state of Oregon.
This report was released by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in 2005 and provides a compilation of data from studies of the economic impacts of wind farms on rural communities.
There are two broad classes of wind turbines: commercial-scale and residential-scale. Most opportunities for public investment will be with the commercial-scale turbines, as many of the industry participants are publicly-held corporations. These industry participants include wind developers who own the turbines and hold Power Purchase Agreements with utilities; the utilities or electric distribution companies that sell the electricity retail to customers; transmission companies; energy marketers; turbine installation contractors; and turbine, tower, and other related hardware manufacturers. Some of these companies are listed on our Resources page. We do not endorse any one of these companies, but would recommend you consult an investment advisor that specializes in the energy industry.
A new development in the investment profession is that a growing number of advisors, managers and mutual funds are specializing in environmentally-benign investment opportunities. A business library can also help you find references to these opportunities.
This report reviews various business structures for community wind development, reviews previous studies on the economic impact of both wind development in general and the relative impacts of corporate and community wind development, and investigates the specific case of the economic impact of community vs. corporate wind development for a multi-turbine project in Big Stone County, Minnesota.
The report found that community owned wind can have a significantly larger economic impact than corporate wind development.
This report by Arne Kildegaard of the University of MN, Morris and Josephine Myers-Kuykindall of the University of MN, Morris, was published September 2006.
This 2006 report from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory assesses the direct economic impacts of constructing new electricity from wind, coal and natural gas in three different states. Initial results showed that new electricity generation from wind could be more economically effective than adding new electricity generation from gas or coal power and that new wind electricity generation keeps more dollars local.