We have all heard about the Alaska oil check or the annual payment to every Alaska household financed by taxation of oil production. How about the wind check?
In Sherman county, Oregon, the wind check or the annual payment to every household of the county financed by taxation of wind production arrives in the mail. See http://www.oregonlive.com/pacific-northwest-news/index.ssf/2011/11/wind_blows_money_into_pockets.html. This year's payment is 590 people. The household payments are part of the $9 million per year the wind industry pays to Sherman county in taxes. Payments will continue until at least 2025.
Wind tax revenues have also paid for a new public library, county-wide high speed internet service, a $1million building to house the Oregon State Cooperative Extension Service, and increasing the Sheriff's department from 4 to 5 officers.
Sherman county is home to twelve wind farms and 550 wind turbines with 1,000 megawatts of electric generation capacity or 2% of America's soon 50,000 megawatts of wind generation. The county wanted literally to spread the wind wealth in order to make every county resident a winner in the wind boom, since hosting even clean wind turbines is not without impacts.
In addition to wind, Sherman county is known for wheat farming. Most of the 12 wind farms are located on wheat farms, with some farmers having 30 turbines on their property. Wind companies typically pay $6,000 per turbine per year to lease property for the turbines.
High wheat prices and wind power have helped to make Sherman county the second wealthiest in Oregon, with per capita income of $41,049. Sherman county is part of America's wind energy boom that is bringing enough clean energy to supply 13 million homes, creating more than 100,000 jobs, and new wealth to rural landowners and communities in more than 30 states.
The continuing attacks on wind power from various quarters must seem strange to the 1753 residents of Sherman county where wind energy is making better the county and America.