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Time for Rural America to Fully Embrace Wind Energy, Educate

Time for Rural America to Fully Embrace Wind Energy, Educate

Date: 11/13/2007

Source: Stacia Cudd, National Association of Farm Broadcasting News Service

Audio with Dan McGuire, Director of the American Corn Growers Foundation Wealth from the Wind Program (MP3 3.1 MB) Download Windows Media Player. Time: 00:03:21.

Since the year 2000, wind generated electricity has more than quadrupled and can now serve nearly three-million homes. Just in the last two years, the U.S. installed more than 49-hundred megawatts of new wind generating capacity. That's more than the total installed during the industry's first 20 years.

President Bush wants more. The President says wind energy can provide as much as 20-percent of the nation's electricity. According to Dan McGuire, director of the American Corn Growers Foundation Wealth from the Wind program, people want more, too. In fact, he says studies have shown a large majority of rural residents want wind generated electricity. He says rural electric cooperatives should embrace that — in turn embracing wind development. He says it has a lot of benefits.

"Wind energy offers rural electrics a way to balance their energy portfolio mix. Rural residents and farmer co-op members already pay for distribution lines and infrastructure. It only makes sense to send wind energy down those lines. And higher costs for coal, nuclear, natural gas and the transportation needed for it are great reasons for co-ops to embrace wind energy. Wind energy means new, rural income and manufacturing jobs. And wind energy means future customers and new business for rural electric co-ops."

But McGuire says electric co-ops aren't the only ones with something to gain. He says rural schools should also take an interest in wind energy and the development of related curricula. He notes wind energy is a growth industry with plenty of exciting career opportunities for coming generations. Therefore, McGuire says rural school boards, administrations and science teachers should be on the cutting edge delivering wind energy education. And he says there's a great resource available for that.

"Wind Powering America and the National Renewable Energy Lab have launched Wind for Schools, an outreach program. You might call it an on-ramp and a new way of putting energy into education. The National Energy Education Development — NEED program as it's known — has an exciting curricula for rural schools."

That's available online at www.need.org. McGuire says that's also available to 4-H leaders — who can not only use the curriculum — but can push for its use in the rural schools. But it doesn't stop with the rural schools and 4-H. McGuire says ag extension agents and the National FFA Organization can also play a role in wind energy education.

"Ag Extension agents have the delivery system in place to inform the rural sector about wind energy. FFA should consider including wind energy forums or workshops at their conferences. And you know, by all of us pulling together, the NREL, Wind Powering America, all the ag groups, 25x'25 Coalition and the farm and commodity groups — we'll get 20-percent of our electricity from wind energy for a very bright future for rural America."

McGuire says that will take work. He notes how long it has taken for the general public to accept ethanol. As is the case with ethanol, McGuire says there are wind energy myths to dispel. Fortunately, he says there are groups like the Wind Energy Works coalition, 25x'25, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory and the National Association of Farm Broadcasting that are getting the positive message of wind energy to farm and rural policy leaders and others around the nation.

This information was last updated on November 13, 2007