In the drought-stricken farm belt of southeastern Colorado, down-on-their-luck farmers and wide-eyed environmentalists alike are looking forward to the day when many more Americans derive their electricity from the wind, an ultimately renewable, pollution-free source of energy. And the state-funded Colorado Green Project is helping make this vision into a reality.
Thanks to the project, wind turbines are now humming along across 12,000 agricultural acres in Colorado's Prowers County, an area hard hit by the double whammy of a five-year drought and economic recession. The turbines in place there are generating enough power to run 52,000 homes per year, and planners estimate that wind development will bring a wide range of non-agricultural jobs into the area while bolstering the county tax base by more than $2 million a year. Talks are underway to double the capacity of the area's wind energy reserves by developing another phase of the project on nearby lands.
On the retail side, consumers in the state can choose to pay a small premium in order to get their electricity from renewable wind sources. Meanwhile, municipalities and utilities that want to get into wind power production can take advantage of Colorado Green's volume discounts on turbine purchases. The project plugs consumers into the network of wind turbine developers looking to boost sales and regional utilities required to provide a small percentage of renewable power options.
"The Colorado Green project has really helped the morale of the area," said Prowers County farmer Chris Rundell. "It used to be people would say, "What is here?""