The city of Rock Port, Mo. holds the distinction of being the first community in the United States to be totally powered by wind energy.
As the county seat of Atchison County, which forms the northwestern tip of the state, the 1,300 residents of Rock Port currently use approximately 13 million kilowatts of electricity per year. But now, due to four new wind turbines, the city predicts that wind energy will account for 16 million kilowatts each year. The Missouri Joint Municipal Utilities purchases surplus electricity not used by Rock Port for use in other areas.
The 5-megawatt (MW) wind project built on agricultural lands within the city limits of Rock Port includes four Suzlon 1.25 MW turbines.
A map published by the U.S. Department of Energy indicates that northwest Missouri has the state’s highest concentration of wind resources and contains many locations suitable for utility-scale wind development.
Specialists at the University of Missouri (MU) Extension say there are excellent opportunities for sustainable wind power in northwest Missouri. There are currently 24 wind turbines in Atchison County, 24 in adjacent Nodaway County and 27 in nearby Gentry County. The specialists at MU estimate that the wind farms will bring in more than $1.1 million annually in county real estate taxes, paid by Wind Capital Group, a wind-energy developer based in St. Louis.
“This is a unique situation because, in rural areas, it is quite uncommon to have this increase in taxation revenues,” said Jerry Baker, MU Extension community development specialist. The alternative-energy source also benefits landowners who can make anywhere from $3,000 to $5,000 when leasing part of their property for turbines.
Other wind-energy companies are looking at possible sites in northwest Missouri.
The payback on a per-acre basis for wind farming is quite good when compared to other crops.
“It’s a savings for the community in general, savings for the rural electric companies, and it does provide electricity service over at least a 20-year time period, which is the anticipated life of these turbines,” Baker said.