In Marshall, Searcy County, Arkansas two men have been debating about a new source of energy. Bradley Ragland is a supporter of the wind turbine energy that is being proposed for the area. Ragland, a Pentecostal Minister and construction worker, sees the economic boast for the area.
Searcy County has been declared one of the lowest per capita income regions in Arkansas, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Trade Wind Energy of Lenexa, Kansas, wants to make this statistic null and void. They are an experienced wind developer operating in the Heartland, according to their website at www.tradewindenergy.com. They have measured the wind speed on Star Mountain near Marshall. They seek 15,000 acres of the mountain and have been signing up landowners to grant that acreage to them. They look for the construction to start on the Star Mountain Project by the fourth quarter of 2010. This project will include more than 100 wind turbines on this mountain and on South Mountain.
This project, according to Wind Energy, will produce enough power for approximately 45,000 homes. The acreage needed would be for roads, turbine foundations, and maintenance buildings.
With the project, employment figures are high for a poor region. Trade Winds will employ 150 to 250 workers for a year, and then 8 to 17 personnel will be needed to maintain the facility. The taxes going to the County would increase, also.
According to an article in the Arkansas Democrat Gazette by David Smith, not everyone is in favor of this project.
Adam Weigel, Trade Wind’s Project Director, said the company will pay the landowner $3 per acre before the project starts. When the turbines are built the per acre price rises to $20 per acre. When the turbines start producing energy, the landowners will receive percentage amounts which could amount to $10,000 per year.
However, the project is being met with opposition from the local residents. One landowner fears that the noise generated by the turbines will scare off the wildlife and birds. Charles Baker is vehemently opposed. He fears that the vibrations from the turbines will interfere with the natural springs on his property.; He also foresees that the 400 feet tall wind turbines, which are the height of a 40 story office building., will obstruct the view of the mountains and valleys.
The debate goes on. Will the income generated from the project be worthwhile? Can this new source of energy make life easier in the Searcy County area of Marshall? The powers that be at Trade Wind Energy want a chance to try.
References: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Arkansas Democrat Gazette David Smith