While large companies around the world are installing vast wind farms, Juhl Wind Inc., from Woodstock, Minnesota, is helping farmers and communities in the Midwest to take advantage of this renewable energy resource. As explained by Juhl Wind, community wind is a form of community based energy development, or C-BED. Legislation passed in Minnesota in 2005 included electricity rate-based measures to support community wind farms. This allows local farmers, businesses, schools, utilities and other public or private entities to own the wind projects instead of leasing their land to large wind companies.
As reported by the Minneapolis – St. Paul Star Tribune, Juhl Wind, Inc. was founded by Dan Juhl, a 35-year wind pioneer in Minnesota. Juhl has developed farmer and community-owned wind farms worth more than $100 million, and has helped initiate renewable energy legislation in Minnesota that has helped the state become the third largest producer of wind energy in the country.
Juhl Wind’s first community-owned wind farm started up in Woodstock, Minnesota in 1999 and the next year he finished the first farmer-owned project. Since then, Juhl Wind Inc. has developed 14 wind farms throughout the upper Midwest that produce about 117 megawatts of electricity. And the company has other new wind farms in development that will bring the total up to about 565 megawatts.
The idea of community based wind farms is to provide renewable electricity to the local community. But they can also have a big economic impact. When local farmers or landowners develop and own the wind farms, they collect a share of the profits. According to Juhl, they can potentially add 30 to 40 percent of their income. Farmers can diversify and have another source of income without taking too much of their land out of production. Juhl Wind, Inc. also hires only local contractors to work in its projects, keeping the money in the community.
In August 2010, Juhl Wind announced that it had completed and started up a $1.8 million municipal wind power system in Woodstock. Despite the credit crisis, Juhl Wind was able to arrange construction financing for the Woodstock Municipal project as well as the Grant County wind farm, a $40 million project it started constructing in November 2009 in central western Minnesota near Hoffman.
Also in August 2010, Juhl Wind announced on PR Newswire that it had executed an agreement to develop a $10 million wind farm for Gunderson Lutheran Hospital, a leading hospital based in La Crosse Wisconsin. The wind farm will be located in southeastern Minnesota, will generate about 5 megawatts of electricity, and will be locally owned and operated. Construction is planned to begin in the 4th quarter of 2010 and should be completed in 2011.
Jennifer Bjorhus, “A long and windy road” – Star Tribune
Juhl Wind Inc.
Juhl Wind, Inc. Announces Completion of the Woodstock Municipal Wind System – PR News Wire
Juhl Wind, Inc. Announces New $10 Million Community Wind Farm for Gundersen Lutheran Hospital – PR News Wire
Neal St. Anthony, “Making Juhl the little wind farm that could” – Star Tribune