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.