Friday, July 02, 2004

Farmers Eager to Cash in on Wind

Another feedback loop--as climate change deepens the drought in the west, farmers look for an alternative source of income and come up with wind power--a sustainable source of energy.

Mixed in with the sound of meadowlarks, tractors and the hum of the wind on Colorado's southeastern plains is a low, steady beat: "whoop, whoop, whoop."

It comes from a line of towering turbines that are producing electricity used across Colorado. The sound coming from a ridge south of this farming town has become a beckoning call for people struggling through a fifth year of crop-killing drought.

"I get calls pretty much on a weekly basis, `How can I get a wind farm on my land?'" said Greg Emick, standing atop a ridge near the turbines.

All but 10 of the 108 turbines are on Emick family land. Emick won't detail the agreement with the Colorado Green wind power project, but said the family gets royalties and a fee for each turbine, 375 feet tall. The power goes to Xcel Energy, the state's largest utility.

Besides lighting homes, the wind project on the plains 200 miles southeast of Denver is bringing hope to an area battered by recession and a crippling drought.

"The Colorado Green project has really helped the morale of the area," said Chris Rundell, a Lamar-area farmer. "It used to be people would say, `What is here?'"


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