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Saving Farmland One Wind Energy Project at a Time

December 9, 2011

Audio with Rich VanderVeen, Mackinaw Power, LLC president (MP3 1.9 MB) Download Windows Media Player. Time: 00:02:03

Perhaps you've heard the statistic that America is losing more than an acre of agricultural land to development every minute of every day. It's a startling realization—and one that groups and organizations are trying to address.

Rich VanderVeen, president of Mackinaw Power, LLC in Michigan, says the wind industry can actually play a positive role in protecting the nation's farms calling it a way to keep family farms in the family for generations.

"Without farms, there'll be no healthy food; without new income to future farmers, there will be no farms. So wind power becomes a very important wealth-building second crop, if you will, at 450 feet."

VanderVeen says wind energy development creates financial, social, and ecological capital.

"Cleaner air, cleaner water: ecological value. Community involvement, community engagement, community investment is the social side of it. And of course financially, we're trying to create more wealth from the wind."

VanderVeen says it's time to wean the nation off of foreign and fossil fuels, make more power in America, and redefine how we want to leave the world for the next generation. He says developing the wind resource is a way to address each of those needs.

"I think most people would agree that renewable energy, with no fossil fuel and no foreign fuel, creating clean air, clean water, and investments in our community is the way to go. That is a solid investment in America, it's a solid investment in keeping our family farms family farms, it's a solid investment in public health, it's a solid investment in future advanced manufacturing. It's a way to create a stronger America."

VanderVeen has seen the benefits of wind energy development first-hand in Michigan where one wind energy project has saved thousands of acres of farmland for future generations but also provided a boost to manufacturing that has helped the state weather the economic downturn.

—Julie Jones