Blowing in the Wind

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For generations, families who settles on the prairies and plains of the great mid-section of the United States have done battle with the wind. It has scoured their fields, flattened their crops, and sent icy fingers under the doorways of their homes. But what was once a bane has suddenly become a boon. Brokers are working their way across the Midwest and parts of West Texas offering cash for wind rights.

Wind is the nation's fastest-growing source of electricity and the capacity is expected to double within the next year. Utility companies are stepping on each other in their efforts to sign up farmers who are willing to plant a crop of sleek, 200-foot-tall turbines in their fields along with the usual corn and soybeans. In fact, some farmers have discovered that selling their wind rights is a whole lot more profitable than raising crops. And even better, they can sit on the front porch and watch the blades spin rather than hunker down over a tractor in the hot sun yet still put money in the bank.

In Minnesota, farmers can earn about $2,000 a year per turbine, which takes up about one-eighth of an acre. Crops grown on the same fields clear about $40 an acre.

New York Times
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Linda is responsible for the PERC web sites, media relations, the national journalism conference, and the media fellows program. She is author of Forest Fires, part of a series of  environmental education books for high school students. She also wrote and produced Square One, a newsletter that introduced grassroots environmentalists to market...
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