The United States Department of Energy has stated that it wants wind energy to supply at least 35% of the nation’s electrical demand by 2050. Achieving this milestone will bring about profound changes in the way we develop, use, and pay for electricity.

However, getting there will require the expansion of developable areas, in no small part through wind farm contracts with landowners. So what are the benefits free power gives to landowners?

"The study further finds that 92% percent of landowners who participated said that wind turbines provide income for landowners."

Number One: Personal Financial Benefit

Wind power paid for $222 million in lease payments in the year 2015, and that number is only going up as wind energy grows in popularity. For landowners with sizable tracts of terrain — such as farmers and livestock ranchers — wind energy represents an immediate and lasting method for producing reliable drought-proof income.

According to Dr. Sarah Mills of the University of Michigan, farmers with wind farm land lease agreements in place are more likely to:

• Purchase home improvements

• Invest money in their farming operations

• Purchase more farmland

All of these indicate that landowners with wind farm contracts are putting extra income to good use. The monthly land lease, paid for by the wind project developer, puts extra money in landowners’ pockets and gives them the ability to develop their primary industries more fully. The study further finds that 92% percent of landowners who participated said that wind turbines provide income for landowners.

"Not only does wind use a tiny percent of land — leaving the vast majority of landowners' terrain untouched"

Number Two: Local Jobs and Development

The Bureau of Labor Statistics expects the wind industry to grow, citing a 39% growth in overall wind-generating capacity between the years 2004 and 2009. Each wind energy development project relies on a team of engineers and technicians to achieve the project’s manufacturing, development, and operation goals. Like any large-scale infrastructure project of this nature, wind farm contracts generate local revenue and provide much-needed jobs to populations in rural areas. Engineering technicians can make up to $50,000 per year maintaining wind farm equipment, and they are often able to qualify for the job through on-site training or vocational coursework. Moreover, there is a nationwide shortage of qualified wind turbine service technicians. Higher paying jobs, such as in environmental or aerospace engineering, can pay an annual salary between $70,000 and $90,000. Other options include construction site managers, electricians and crane operators — wind farm projects revitalize rural economies by providing these types of jobs to qualified people.

This influx of jobs and money can hugely improve the quality of life that landowners experience in their communities. Local economic development of this kind typically results in the generation of new businesses and new investment opportunities for the entire local population.

Number Three: Clean and Highly Efficient Energy

It’s hard to beat wind power when it comes to generating energy cleanly. Not only does wind use a tiny percent of land — leaving the vast majority of landowners’ terrain untouched — but it doesn’t draw resources out of the land either. Other power generation strategies rely on drawing some kind of resource out of the landowner’s terrain, but wind power is completely efficient from this point of view. It offsets fossil fuel consumption while providing cheaper, cleaner energy to local homeowners and businesses.

Windmill leasing presents a lucrative and highly desirable option for landowners who wish to cash in on renewable energy. By offsetting fossil fuel consumption, creating jobs and paying landowners, wind energy has the power to transform the rural lifestyle. This, in turn, spurs further development and turns rural areas into thriving communities with well-established economies.