Wind Farms/Wind Parks
When large, utility-scale turbines are grouped together for the purpose of providing bulk power to the electrical grid, it’s known as a wind farm, or wind park. Wind farms can be installed on farms or ranches, benefiting the economy in rural areas (where the best wind sites generally exist). Utility companies finance the installation and maintenance of the wind farm’s turbine make rent payments for the use of the land. Alternately, a utility company may own the land on which a wind farm is located.
Another approach to the wind farm is known as community wind. According to Fritz Ebinger, a Policy Analyst with Windustry, a national non-profit with a mission to empower communities to develop and own wind energy, the community wind model works to keep the economic benefits of wind energy local by creating utility-scale wind-farms (or smaller projects) owned by the community but operated by the utility company. Under this system, utilities are legally obligated to pay back local investors at a higher rate during the first ten years of the project–a fact that, in combination with a federal tax incentives, can makes wind energy a profitable endeavor for investors and local communities.
A few challenges associated with wind farms are the higher initial investment required versus fossil-fueled generators and the fact that prime wind locations are often in remote areas, far from the areas where electricity is most in demand. Additionally, wind turbines can be considered eye-sores (especially those located offshore, within sight of beaches) and can be loud. There have also been concerns about the impact of wind farms on migrating birds, but this concern can be addressed in most cases by properly siting wind farms and turbines.