Rural communities well-positioned to combine wind energy, conservation

Center for Rural Affairs
Center for Rural Affairs

With states across the Midwest continuing to embrace the economic potential of renewable wind energy, project developers and landowners also have the ability to work together to explore opportunities for investments in conservation, according to a new report released today by the Center for Rural Affairs. 

In addition to the approximately 51,000 jobs the wind energy industry already supports across the region, "Amplifying Clean Energy With Conservation Part Three: Exploring Wind Energy and Stewardship," explores opportunities for coupling investments in water quality improvement and pollinator habitat on utility-scale wind energy project sites.

“With the impacts of climate change bearing down on rural communities, working together to leverage the rapidly-expanding wind energy industry to invest in conservation helps build resiliency,” said Cody Smith, policy associate at the Center and author of the report. “In an effort to transition to a clean energy economy, rural communities are uniquely positioned to host new wind projects, as well as bring together all stakeholders to ensure the greatest return on investment for their communities.”

The publication explores strategies for public officials, landowners, and utilities to promote the restoration of native vegetation and other conservation practices.

“Even with high capacity projects, wind turbines often occupy limited areas of land which allows for other unrestricted uses on project sites, including both farming and conservation,” Smith said. “If project developers, landowners, and public officials want to amplify the value of each of these sites, conservation could help get them to that point.”