Pulling money out of thin air. Or, why wind power should be a neighborly concern.

My mother and I chat a lot about different alternative energy options, mainly because she is lucky enough to live in Hawaii where solar hot water has been mandated for future construction. But one thing that has been ultra controversial on the Big Island has been wind power for the same very obvious reasons that other communities have an issue with it: the size of the turbines needed to harness this source of energy.

My mother and I chat a lot about different alternative energy options, mainly because she is lucky enough to live in Hawaii where solar hot water has been mandated for future construction. But one thing that has been ultra controversial on the Big Island has been wind power for the same very obvious reasons that other communities have an issue with it: the size of the turbines needed to harness this source of energy.

So, if investing in wind power is likely to make your neighbors upset, why not get your neighbors involved? Heck, while you're at it, why not give them an ownership stake in the project, so they have the potential to make some money on an alternative energy technology?

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That's the thinking of National Wind, which has taken a community-owned approach to developing wind projects of 50 megawatts or larger in the Midwest and in the Plains States. So far, the company says it is working on about 15 different "families" of projects that have the potential to produce 4,000 megawatts of renewable energy. The company has both a services capacity, which means it can handle wind assessments, and it is an authorized dealer for wind towers from NRG Systems and Composite Tower Solutions.

Here's an example of how National Wind works its projects. Last month, the company worked through Delphi Financial to hold an intrastate public offering of shares in a 300-megawatt wind powe project for High Country. The farms will be located in Dodge, Olmsted and Mower counties in the state of Minnesota. And just last week, National Wind held another public offering in conjunction with Dakota Wind Energy in Eden, S.D., that will offer local landowners stakes in a 750-megawatt network of wind farms in Roberts, Marshall and Day counties in South Dakota.

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