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Wind Energy Has A Lot Riding on Programs up for Debate in Congress

November 2, 2011

Audio with Lisa Daniels, Windustry executive director (MP3 2.3 MB) Download Windows Media Player. Time: 00:02:24

Community wind and small wind have both been a boon to rural America and farmers.

Small wind is classified as wind turbines with capacity ratings from one to 100 kilowatts. They can provide power for residential homes, farms, small businesses, and schools. Community wind is clean, local energy with more elements of local ownership, involvement, and participation. Rather than an individual making the investment in the project, people in the community make the investment and determine what's best for their community. The project is typically on a more commercial scale with capacity ratings of of 100 kilowatts to two megawatts.

Lisa Daniels, executive director of Windustry, a non-profit group that promotes community wind throughout the U.S., says both have their benefits.

"It keeps your energy dollars as local as possible. The economic benefits stay more local. If there's a local project coming together, you're using more local materials, more local labor, sometimes going to a local bank, going to the local engineers, the local service providers for that project."

As Congress looks to find budget savings and ag leaders work early to put together the pieces of the next Farm Bill, Daniels says there are important programs that keep small and community wind alive that could find themselves on the cutting room floor of Congress.

"There are programs that are slated to be cut. The clean energy programs are being severely hit. One of the pieces that supports community wind is called REAP - Rural Energy for America Program. And this is all about local ownership of wind turbines, wind energy projects."

Daniels says wind energy has become a farm product, and as such, farm energy programs are important to farmers and ranchers.

"Funding decisions are being made that will affect farm energy progress for years to come."

Daniels says America will benefit from continued farm energy progress in the coming years.

"These projects contribute to energy security and the rural economic development and the rural communities, and they also help to protect our environment and grow income, new income sources, for farmers."

For more information on community and small wind, visit

—Julie Jones