North Carolina Farmers Add Wind to Crop, Harvest Economic Boom

File photo via Patrick Briggs, Flickr

Sprouting up among the wheat fields of northeastern North Carolina is a new cash crop: Wind-harvesting turbines. As The Virginian-Pilot reports, it’s a field of dreams for farmers that co-exists with their current crops:

Atlantic Wind LLC, a subsidiary of Iberdrola Renewables, will pay [Horace] Pritchard and other landowners in Pasquotank and Perquimans counties $6,000 per turbine per year. He and the other farmers still can work their land around the turbines’ concrete base. This is like having a new crop with a steady income no matter the weather, he said.

I’ve told people I don’t know anything I could raise legal that could match that,” he said.

The wind farm will deliver a short-term job explosion, with a long-term sustainable base:

Atlantic Wind, in its application to the state Utilities Commission, says it will invest $600 million into the Pasquotank and Perquimans site, hire 600 people during construction and maintain 15 to 20 permanent employees. The company received permits from both counties last month and expects to begin construction before the year ends.

For local governments, it’s a huge source of new revenue in the midst of tough economic times. Atlantic Wind is expected to be Pasquotank County’s largest taxpayer by three-fold.

Properly sited, wind power can deliver sustainable energy at an affordable cost while creating a surge of new jobs. And not just on land – a National Wildlife Federation report last year documented the huge potential for wind power off America’s Atlantic coast.