First Look: Rush Creek Wind Project Providing Massive Benefits to Eastern Plains Economy, Residents
Matheson, CO – State legislators and economic development leaders joined project developers Xcel Energy and Vestas for a tour of 30 recently installed wind turbines at the Kochis Farms on Thursday. The first-of-its-kind tour of Xcel Energy’s 600-megawatt Rush Creek Wind Project highlighted the project’s economic benefits, including the $1 billion invested in Colorado and the hundreds of direct and indirect jobs created. The developers expect the project will be fully operational in October of this year.
“These wind turbines are serving as a new cash crop for us,” said Jan Kochis of Kochis Farms and Rocky Mountain Farmers Union Board Chair. “The new income that these turbines provide will create more certainty for our farming operations by helping balance against the roller coaster commodity markets and unpredictable weather.”
Recent wind energy developments across Colorado’s eastern plains continue to be a boon to the local economy, providing landowners with millions in land lease payments each year. In total, Colorado’s wind resources have attracted $6 billion in investment, and the wind industry now supports over 5,000 jobs in the state. Wind projects have also provided a boost to local governments and small businesses through new tax revenue and increased local spending. Xcel Energy’s Rush Creek Wind Project is just the latest project to provide a much-needed shot in the arm for rural Colorado.
“Rush Creek is a terrific project that has employed hundreds during construction and will continue to employ wind technicians, many of which are from our local communities,” said State Senator Jerry Sonnenberg (R-1). “Rather than continuing to export our best local resource, our children, the growing wind industry is providing new opportunities that are allowing more of them to stay local.”
A recent report by Progressive 15 on the economic impact of wind and solar energy showed that projects were contributing over $7 million annually in tax revenue, nearly $8 million in landowner lease payments and well over 4,000 jobs in just 11 eastern plains counties.
“Wind energy projects for places like Lincoln County are a welcome and important part of our economy,” said Troy McCue, Executive Director of the Lincoln County Economic Development Corporation. “We’re seeing landowners staying on their land and creating new income with the help of these lease payments, we’re investing more in our communities because of the local tax bump and we’re seeing more jobs created.”
“Wind is a huge win-win for rural Colorado,” said Shawn Martini, Vice President of Advocacy for the Colorado Farm Bureau. “Rush Creek is just one project and we’re poised to see even bigger investments should Xcel Energy’s Colorado Energy Plan be approved by the Colorado Public Utilities Commission, which, for the growth and health of our communities, we hope they do.”
Vestas Wind Systems built the 300 wind turbines for the project in their local, Colorado factories.
Attending the tour and listening to the positive economic impact wind energy is having throughout Colorado were Representative Kimmi Lewis, Elbert County Commissioner Grant Thayer, Lincoln County Economic Development staff, Xcel Energy representatives, and Vestas Representatives.
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