Nearly a year after the project was completed, North Dakota gathered this month to celebrate the Rugby Wind Power Plant. In the tiny town of Rugby, where the population fell 15 percent over the first decade of the new millennium to 2,510, the giddy effect of 17 full-time permanent jobs — in addition to 149 megawatts (MW) of wind power — apparently lingers.
At the event, U.S. Senator Byron Dorgan (D-N.D.) captured the belief that wind represents a huge economic opportunity for the prairie state. “North Dakota truly is the Saudi Arabia of wind energy potential,” he said, “and the growth we’re seeing in wind energy in North Dakota means more jobs creation, economic development and a cleaner environment.”
The wind farm is about the biggest thing to hit Rugby since the town laid claim — dubiously, it appears — to the title “Geographical Center of North America” in 1932. Over the course of construction, some 250 workers were employed at the site. Iberdrola said that in addition to those temporary jobs and the 17 permanent ones, the wind project contributes about $2 million annually in the form of landowner lease payments and property taxes.
The plant is made up of 71 new Suzlon S88 turbines, each capable of generating 2.1 MW turbines of electricity. Missouri River Energy Services gobbles up nearly a quarter of the energy to power 11,000 homes in the upper Midwest, while Iberdrola markets the remaining energy.
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