There have been mixed opinions on the potential that a 65,000-acre wind farm could transform the rural community. Some are concerned that the wind farm will ruin the natural, obstruction-free skyline views. However, the wind farm would bring in a revenue stream to the surrounding communities that could change the lives of the people who live there for the better.
The company Scout Clean Energy proposed the idea for the wind farm back in 2016. Adding a wind farm to Benton County, Washington, would potentially produce 600 megawatts of wind energy. Combine that with solar and battery storage, and the potential energy production goes up to 1150 megawatts of renewable energy.
As the nation pushes for a reduction in fossil fuel usage, this addition would further clarify that renewable energy can drastically change the future of energy and the environment for the better. The project would significantly lower the costs of energy as well as generate revenue due to property taxes.
With a maximum of 244 turbines, the wind farm proves to have plenty of benefits, even though it would obscure the skyline views. In addition to creating over a thousand megawatts of power, the turbines' installation would produce many job opportunities.
There would be nearly 1,000 potential temporary construction jobs available as people are needed to construct and install the turbines. Also, a crew would need to manage the farm, which would allow over 50 permanent positions that would pay wages enough to support a family.
People have been using the power of the wind for thousands of years. It has proven to be cost-effective, creates jobs and overall, is more sustainable for the environment. As more people see the potential of renewables, the environment can begin to renew.
Even with pushback and petitions against the wind farm, some people see the clear benefits of adding a wind farm to the community. One man, in particular, Christopher Bubba Wiley, is a farmer from Horse Heaven Hills.
Wiley has been a supporter of the project since the beginning and wants to see his community embrace renewable energy. His community relies on the land to make a living, most of them being farmers or working in the agricultural sector. Although it's a different kind of stewardship of the land, installing wind turbines would bring in even more revenue for families than agriculture is currently.
As rural communities like the ones surrounding Horse Heaven Hills continue to develop, they need a reliable source of revenue to support the people that live there. Wind farms might be better for the skyline than housing developments, which isn't a natural landscape either.
There is still concern that building an entire wind farm would disrupt the land. The area has a unique history with its geology. Floods in the Ice Age helped shape the land into its rolling hills accompanied by views of Mounts Rainier, Hood and Adams.
Plus, the area has brought in tourists as well. If a wind farm rises, the tourist industry could diminish. Yet, the revenue from the wind farm would replace the income generated from tourism. Farmers would benefit from the energy project.
Additionally, there would still be plenty of room for farmers to continue their business. Crops can grow among the renewable energy source, and animals like cattle, chickens, goats and pigs can still thrive despite there being a wind farm nearby.
Wind energy is one of the renewables that is continuing to rise in popularity across the country. It has grown quite a bit in the last few decades. Now, wind energy accounts for about 8.4% of the United States' electricity generation from utility-sized farms, which is what the wind farm in Washington could be as long as it is approved.