The cost of wind energy fell dramatically from the 1980s through 2003, then increased for most of the remainder of the decade. Then, as the recession hit, turbine orders declined and prices with them. Meanwhile turbine technology has significantly improved, so that they are producing energy more efficiently than ever, which is the real bottom line.
In the United States, leasing land to wind energy developers continues to be the most common way rural landowners are participating in wind energy. As the wind industry grows, wind developers are increasing the amount of land they are leasing to keep their future market share from slipping away. Because of this, landowners in windy areas need solid advice about wind energy and what signing a wind energy lease or easement means to both them and future generations who will inherit the land.
Currently, most landowners who participate in commercial-scale wind development do so by entering into a lease or easement agreement with a commercial wind developer.
If you have a good wind resource and land that is well-suited for wind turbines, you still must consider how your community views and regulates wind power. Communities around the country are working to find the best ways to permit and tax wind generation facilities. Their decisions are vital to windy areas because they determine the impacts and benefits of wind energy projects for the broader community. Some states, like Minnesota, have developed statewide policies but still involve local agencies in the process, while most states leave it to the counties or other local permitting agencies to create regulations and issue permits.
This section focuses on project management and planning, two elements that are essential to a successful 2-50 MW community wind project. Topics covered in this section include putting together a reliable project team and understanding risks and ways to mitigate them. The section also provides resources for creating a realistic project plan and timeline, as well as tips from experienced community wind developers.
Wind energy development is expanding rapidly, creating many opportunities for communities to participate in wind development. Windy acreage, once cursed for losing top soil, is now seen as a potential goldmine. Wind energy offers many financial, environmental, and social benefits to the communities and individuals who choose to get involved with its development.
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.