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Blown Off

Wind Turbines in American Farmland

If you are looking for an extra revenue generator on your land – especially if you live in the northeastern part of the United States – you might want to really talk to neighbors first if your plans include wind turbines. The turbines can be a significant source of additional income for landowners. But a new survey offers some insight into which people would prefer to blow off those electricity-generating structures.

Wind energy isn’t just part of what some environmentalists consider a “greener” future because of the alternative it presents to fossil fuels; it also offers a new income source. Landowners can earn $3,000-10,000 per year for each turbine on their land, meaning a dozen of the structures have the potential to bring in $120,000 annually.

However, the new survey from the University of California Santa Barbara found that opposition has been growing against wind turbines, which can be 300 to 600 feet tall. The comprehensive study analyzed more than 1,400 onshore wind projects across the United States and Canada from 2000-2016.

Researchers reported that the strongest opposition to wind turbine projects occurred in the northeastern United States in more population dense areas. Some neighbors in rural Buffalo, New York hope to stop a wind farm planned for their area.

They have concerns that the giant wind turbines could disrupt their underground water supplies or cause physical issues like headaches from the spinning blades. Thousands of bats also die near wind turbines every year and researchers are trying to figure out why.

Despite opposition in some communities, wind energy production has been expanding. Over the past two decades, the United States averages 3,000 new turbines each year, according to the U.S. Wind Turbine Database. The database now counts nearly 71,000 turbines in the United States.

Broadly across the United States and Canada, those who didn’t want wind turbine projects in their area tended to live in predominantly white, wealthier communities, the survey found. It will be a challenge for the future: How to balance the wishes of residents with how to grow an industry with much potential.


American Farmland Owner Hayfields mountains


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