While wind energy in North Carolina is a new concept, I’ve realized firsthand how North Carolina’s agriculture industry can benefit from partnering with the wind industry. When the project developers contacted me seven years ago about leasing my farmland for the project, I had questions about the role wind energy could play on our farm.
My family has farmed corn, soybeans and wheat in Pasquotank County for four generations, back to my great-great grandfather. But, as commodity prices continued to fall over the years, we knew we had to diversify in some way to protect the farm. And, the few manufacturing companies that have considered moving here have never worked out. To our surprise, wind energy on our farmland has provided the financial certainty and diversity that we needed.
To be honest, when Iberdrola Renewables first called us, I couldn’t even pronounce the name. The offer to build a wind project on our farmland seemed like a good idea up front, but could it be enough to allow us to keep farming? To find out, I spoke with another farmer in Texas who had partnered with Iberdrola. He only had four turbines but wished he could have added four more.
For our land, Iberdrola has leased it for 25 years with the option to renew for 25 more. Of my 1,300 acres, less than one acre per turbine will be used for a total of nine turbines when the project is finished.
And, the people at Iberdrola are doing what they said they would do. They were receptive to our input when plotting the turbines and have not disrupted our farmland or the neighboring community of Whiteston. In fact, Iberdrola rocked five miles of dirt farm roads on our farm, which we never could have afforded, at no cost to us or our county. These roads will help our family get our crops out next season.
In total, Iberdrola will have improved over 60 miles of farm roads on the whole project.
As a property owner and farmer, wind makes sense for our family farm, and it makes sense from an economic standpoint for other Tier 1 counties like Pasquotank and Perquimans. North Carolina could not ask for a better deal that includes increased tax revenues and needed infrastructure at no cost to us.
The tax revenues from this wind project will amount to more than $250,000 per year for each of the two counties for the duration of the 25-year lease. For counties like us, that’s a tremendous amount of money. And, the project will pay over $600,000 per year to the more than 60 landowners in the two counties. Wind energy has provided financial certainty to our family farm and rural counties in eastern North Carolina.
Horace Pritchard is a landowner and past chairman of the Pasquotank County Economic Development Commission and longtime member of the County Board of Commissioners
On April 7, there will be a discussion of how clean energy helps North Carolina’s children and economy at the upcoming at the N.C. Museum of Natural Science. WRAL’s Chief Meteorologist Greg Fishel, pediatric allergy and asthma specialist Dr. Jennifer Caicedo and Dr. Katherine Hayhoe, a leading climate scientist and professor at Texas Tech University, will discuss recent examples of weather getting weird, the health effects of air pollution and clean energy’s potential as a driver of economic growth and development.