Clean Energy

Clean energy offers a significant opportunity to diversify the rural economy while generating cheap, renewable power for rural homes and businesses.

Wind, solar, and other renewable energy projects help revitalize rural communities by taking advantage of their rich energy resources. New tax revenue from these projects help shore up local infrastructure, like schools and emergency services, while reducing the local tax burden on rural people. Meanwhile, farmers and landowners receive land-lease payments from project developers in an unpredictable farm economy. In addition, new jobs are created by the increased demand for local manufacturing and project operators.

To maximize the impact of clean energy development, a critical need arises for new and upgraded transmission capacity to carry renewable energy generated across wide geographic areas to consumers. Investing in transmission infrastructure creates new access to clean energy and allows rural economies in the Midwest and Great Plains to unlock their clean energy potential.

We aim to assist landowners and other rural stakeholders to ensure that clean energy transmission is built in an equitable, sustainable way—a way that works best for rural citizens and their communities.

Click here to view our wind energy story map, and watch the video below to see how the small town of Petersburg, Nebraska, realized its clean energy potential. Check out our clean energy transmission database, which provides project details on proposed or newly developed transmission projects in the Midwest and Great Plains.
 


 

Clean Energy Notes

 

Native Vegetation and Solar Projects in South Dakota

Across the U.S., the solar industry is booming. Solar project sites often occupy several acres of land and are projected to cover 3 million acres by 2030. To produce 1 megawatt of electricity (enough to power between 100 to 150 homes in South Dakota), utility-scale solar plants may require between 5 and 10 acres of land.

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Prairie Strips and Transmission Corridors

With more than 600,000 miles of operational transmission lines throughout the U.S., there is a significant opportunity for investments in conservation. By establishing native vegetation in these project corridors, developers and private landowners can add value to the rights of way used by electric transmission infrastructure.

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Iowa State Sen. Wahls reflects on 2020 legislative session, rural resiliency

As Iowans continue to work through a year headlined by a global pandemic, racial justice, and most recently, a derecho that hit central and eastern portions of the state, the Center for Rural Affairs remains committed to talking about and providing resources to ensure a resilient future.

With in-person events canceled due to COVID-19 concerns, Policy Associate Cody Smith took to the internet for the Center’s most recent Rural Resiliency Forum last month. 

Balanced zoning, setbacks key to rural clean energy future

The wind energy industry remains one of the fastest growing in the U.S. It has not only increased capacity, but provided consumers and utilities with clean energy while creating additional economic benefits, such as tax revenue, career opportunities and direct payments to landowners who host turbines.