As a third-generation farmer and rancher on the Eastern Plains, I know first-hand just how challenging – and rewarding – our western way of life can be. I also know agriculture is a volatile business, impacted by uncertain economic conditions and commodity prices. Finally, I know our people need, and deserve, financial security.
As a long-time public servant representing our rural communities as a county commissioner, state representative, and now a state senator, I’m focused on the right ways to create this much-needed stability.
One important way for rural Colorado, and farmers and ranchers in particular, to experience economic growth is by supporting wind energy projects where they make sense. In particular, I see incredible potential in the Towner East and Towner West wind energy developments up for permitting approval in Kiowa County this month.
Here’s why. Anyone who knows me knows that I’m not for “green energy” just for the sake of it. But I am for common-sense solutions, and that’s what I see in these projects which will bring stable income to landowners while producing competitive, American-made power for nearly 400,000 Colorado homes.
For me, it’s critical to ensure these projects are financially feasible and can be competitive with traditional energy resources. And if that holds true, this project could be a major boon for local communities, farmers, ranchers, and Colorado more broadly.
For farmers and ranchers, it’s all about stable income and independence. Here’s how it works. The wind farms are developed across the county, with turbines located on private land. The wind farm operators lease land from local farmers and ranchers, and pay lease payments over the development’s estimated 30-year lifetime that result in over $100 million in payments to local farmers, ranchers, and landowners. That’s three decades of predictable, stable income at a time when uncertain weather patterns and commodity prices have made financial planning feel more like fiction writing for eastern plains farmers and ranchers.
For local communities in Kiowa County, let’s start with the nearly $100 million expected in local tax revenue. This is money that can be spent on local schools, local roads, and other local benefits. The project is also expected to bring up to 700 local and regional construction jobs, as well as up to 30 permanent operations and maintenance positions.
For Colorado more broadly, these projects are designed to harness one of our very own abundant natural resources. If we need to buy more energy, we might as well buy local and stand on our own two feet.
Besides the local financial benefits, I know that these projects will do their part to reduce the impacts on local communities. In fact, I made sure of it myself. In 2022, I passed a law that would require wind farms to install equipment to reduce the blinking red lights on the turbines at night, and I am excited to see these and all future projects follow that policy.
Some folks may be skeptical. Maybe it sounds ‘too good to be true.’ But this is not our first rodeo.
Back in 2017, when I was a county commissioner in Cheyenne County, we voted yes to approve the Rush Creek Wind Project, which was developed by Invenergy — the same company now seeking to build the Tower Energy Projects in Kiowa County. Since then, we’ve seen the predicted benefits – jobs, local tax revenue, and stable income for farmers and ranchers – play out exactly as promised.
If you don’t believe me – ask one of your neighbors up the road.
In short: The Tower Energy Wind Projects offer agricultural landowners an opportunity for a new, stable source of income and position our rural communities for greater economic prosperity. These projects are a win, and I hope you’ll join me in supporting them.