Wind Power Flows Jobs To N. Dakota Town

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.”

image via Iberdrola Renewables

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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Pete Danko is a writer and editor based in Portland, Oregon. His work has appeared in Breaking Energy, National Geographic's Energy Blog, The New York Times, San Francisco Chronicle and elsewhere.

  • jonathan d whittington

    i dont know if you can help me but i would like to possibly move to your state to get a job working on the windmills if you have any info i live in va by the way on a job please reply thanks have a wonderful day