Agriculture and Wind Energy, A great combination.
“This wind farm and all the others are part of the state’s infrastructure; they support the community and the state. We need all the infrastructure we can get.” That’s one reason New England, North Dakota rancher, farmer, trucker Gene Roller supports wind projects in North Dakota. He said the entire state benefits from each wind facility.
Since the fall of 2016, his property has hosted part of the Brady 1 wind farm Located in Stark and Hettinger counties, ND. Brady 1 is owned and operated by a subsidiary of NextEra Energy Resources. With 87 wind turbines, Brady 1 plus Brady 2 generate enough electricity to power more than 89,000 homes.
Roller and his dad have three wind turbines on their farm from the Brady 1 wind farm. He said. “The annual lease payments are a wonderful way to earn additional income from the land.”
One of the things Roller likes about the wind projects in southwestern North Dakota is that construction and maintenance of the turbines required improved the access roads, including gravel roads and some section line roads that lead to the turbines. They are on farmland and Roller said, “They’re not disturbing the grassland, the company is protecting the grasslands.”
Not far from Roller is the Brady 2 Wind Energy Center. That’s where Mark Koller’s family has farmed for more than 100 years. He has six wind turbines on his family farm. “Grandpa would be proud,” he said of the advancement in to wind energy.
Before Koller agreed to erect turbines on his land, he asked a lot of questions and did a lot of research. He toured the Wilton and Baldwin wind farms north of Bismarck. He said he saw how small a footprint a turbine has on the land. So, he said, “yes” to the idea. “It definitely added value to the farm,” he said. “They pay pretty well.”
In the field, he plants right around each turbine one with ease. To show their income value, Koller runs through a calculation that shows each half-acre of a wind turbine pays thousands of dollars more than the crop in that field. Payment is based on the amount of electricity each turbine generates. The larger the generator, the larger the payment.
A practical advantage to the wind turbines on his property are the roads built to each turbine. He uses them to get trucks and large farm equipment in and out of his fields. He takes visitors to the field to show them the solid roads. He said they are built so securely that even the road subgrade was even built up to support heavy equipment and the gravel surface of the roads prevent muddy potholes.
The construction company that built the roads to the turbines also upgraded some intersections on county and township roads that give him greater maneuverability.
One thing he likes about working with the companies that built and maintain the turbines is how respectful their crews are of traffic. They give him right of way when he meets them on the road or farm trails, and they treat the road past his home to control dust.