Counting wind power's rural economic benefits: Sherman County, Oregon

Wind power has transformed rural Sherman County, OR, according to a story in today's New York Times by Lee van der Voo:

– County residents receive a payment of $590 a year for each household from the county's tax revenues on its burgeoning wind farms, in a program similar to Alaska's annual rebates on oil pipeline revenues.

– The wind farms have brought in $17.5 million in taxes, fees and assessments over the past nine years to the county, which has only 1,735 residents.  Benefits have flowed to schools and public works, including a new library.

– The wind industry is the county's largest employer.

The story includes some memorable quotes underlining the economic impact of wind power:

Judge Gary Thompson of Sherman County Court: "Wind is the only thing that is going to save rural Oregon, especially since all the timber is gone and the sawmills and all that are closing down. I think what [wind power] is is a breath of fresh air."

Ivan Ritchie, Superintendent of the Sherman County School District: "Right now, when many districts  around the state are gutting everything, we don't have to."

Kathy Neihart, owner of a local restaurant and bar: "It's been wonderful. It's just a fabulous, happy pile of money."

Sherman County is not alone.  Take a few minutes to check out some of these videos documenting the rural wind power economic development boost:

Tim Hemphill (farmer), Milford, Iowa
Judy Cleaves (innkeeper), Weston, Maine
Mike Mayer (garage owner), Milford, Utah
Shaun Sims (rancher), Evanston, Wyoming
Tom Carr (dude rancher), New Raymer, Colorado
Rugby Wind Farm, North Dakota
Dry Lake Wind Farm, Arizona
Klondike Wind Farm, Oregon
Petersburg, Nebraska
State of Iowa
Goldendale, Washington

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