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Wind Power : Doing Communities a Good Turn
Wind power-generated through the use of large turbines that produce energy when their blades are turned by the force of the wind-is one of
the fastest-growing and most promising energy source in the United States. At the end of 2013, wind power generated more than 4 percent of the nation's electricity,
some estimates suggest that figure could climb as high as 20 percent in the next two decades. It's widely known that wind turbines produce no pollution and thus cause less environmental damage than do power plants that burn fossil fuels. What is less understood is how the wind industry enhances the quality of life in local communities through a number of different ways.
Recent studies demonstrate that wind farms, which can consist of up to several hundred large wind turbines, have yielded significant gains in both employment and per capita income for the communities in which they are constructed. One such wind-boom community is Sherman Country, Oregon, where a number of wind farms have been built since 2002, bringing new jobs and lowering the number unemployment rate from 10.2 percent in 2001 to 4.9 percent in 2007. In addition, the per capital income in Sherman County increased from $18,354 in 2001to $52,530 in 2011, the highest in the state.
Beside benefiting individuals by bringing jobs and raising income levels communities are benefited by wind farms through increasing property tax revenues, which can result in a range of civic improvements. In the case of Sherman Country, property tax revenue
increased slightly after two wind farms were built. This extra revenue enable the county to build a new library, a school, and two new city halls and the school district
to purchase new computers, musical instruments, and robotics equipment.