Sunday, November 30, 2008

Day 163: Fields of change

A giant turbine, from

A couple days ago I read this article in the Times, "A Land Rush in Wyoming Spurred by Wind Power". It felt like a signal of a sea change to come, but I am realizing today that perhaps this sea change is already underway in several mid-western states. Yesterday I was fortunate enough to celebrate my grandfather Francis's 91st birthday (1 day late) with him in Illinois. Francis has been an Illinois farmer his entire life and this life has tightly revolved around the fields of Illinois for his nine + decades. Though he no longer farms, he still leases his land to family members and still seems to be quite tapped into the current status of corn in the U.S. economy. Yesterday while we visited the typical topics emerged: the price, yield, and health of corn this year and last. But a new topic also came up, he mentioned that several local farmers are being approached by wind power companies to lease their land for wind turbines. This would offer an anomalous "stable income" to the farmers at $5,000 per turbine, with a chance for increase, which "sounded pretty good" to him.

In many ways it is hard to imagine the flat, rural, endless horizons that stretch for 360 degrees in all directions, now only intermittently broken by single family farm houses, becoming spotted with gigantic turbines. But Illinois currently has more nuclear power (6 reactors) than any other state, so perhaps it is time to begin the switch, or diversification at the very least.

See how the nuclear power list breaks down state by state here.

Learn more about wind power coming to Illinois.

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