When someone says the “wind is at your back,” it usually means that you're on a track for success — that there is momentum behind you.
I've learned over the past few months that in Oklahoma you could say we have wind energy at our backs. The wind energy industry is making a tremendous impact on the lives of Oklahomans.
Working for Advancing Wind, a grassroots initiative of individuals, businesses, chambers of commerce, cultural groups and educational entities that promote wind energy development throughout Oklahoma, I've had the chance to explore the economic, environmental and growth benefits of wind energy.
I already knew that wind power helps communities in many ways. The industry has created nearly 2,000 Oklahoma jobs, according to the American Wind Energy Association. It also increases revenue to local governments for schools, roads, police and fire protection. Annual property tax payments by Oklahoma wind project owners are reported at more than $14 million.
It wasn't until recently that I began to recognize the impact that wind energy has on individuals. During a recent visit to a wind farm in Blackwell, I got acquainted with landowners who lease their property to the wind farm. These families, like many others in Oklahoma, are experiencing the financial benefits of wind energy. Through leasing their farmland, they can contribute to the economy not only via agriculture but through renewable energy.
This industry is making a genuine effort to weave itself into the fabric of Oklahoma communities. For example, NextEra Energy Resources recently donated $20,000 to community organizations in northern Oklahoma, including the Blackwell Youth Center, the Blackwell School Foundation, the Blackwell Senior Center and the Blackwell Library. These donations went straight to the source, providing citizens of Blackwell and the surrounding area with resources that helped improve the community.
Oklahoma is one of the top states for wind energy, but we have only skimmed the surface of our potential. Our wind energy resources could provide more than 31 times the state's current electricity needs, according to the National Renewable Energy Lab.
With this in mind, wind not only has the power to provide a plentiful, sustainable energy resource to power our homes, but it will create a source of revenue as we sell wind energy to other states. This has the potential to lead to more Oklahoma jobs, economic growth and increased opportunity for communities throughout the state.
The wind energy industry is championing the cause of Oklahoma communities. Please join me in championing the cause of wind energy.
McIntyre is spokeswoman for Advancing Wind (www.AdvancingWind.com).