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by Larry

March, 2008

Roscoe's Wind Farm Windfall

Think of West Texas energy and you imagine profits from oil and gas, right? But in one agricultural town you would be wrong. Here the big news is that 1300 population Roscoe, heretofore mainly known for its cotton crop, is becoming a world center of wind farming.

Proving once again that a lone individual can make a difference, it is thanks to the enterprise of, Cliff Etheredge, a 65-year-old farmer missing an arm to a harvester machine, that Roscoe's special wind qualities came to the attention of a green company, Airtricity, headquartered in Dublin, Ireland.

As a result, Airtricity is investing a billion dollars in Roscoe and building there one of the largest wind farms in the world. It turns out Roscoe's almost steady 17 miles per hour wind, that has for many decades been a bane to farmers, parching the crops or blowing away the land, is ideal for a modern wind farm.

Besides the addition to the local economy from construction work involved in raising over 600 wind farm towers, each up to 400 feet in height, several hundred Roscoe citizens will likely be receiving royalties from the use of their land for the giant windmills. From a single big wind tower a farmer can receive $15,000 a year, income that looks likely to be reliable for the foreseeable future.

With the extra attention it is getting and an increased exchange of another kind of green in the local area, this recently sleepy dying community, bypassed by the interstate and watching its stores close and its young people leave, Roscoe is coming back to life and awakening to timely opportunities. A couple new restaurants have already opened. Some of the next generations have returned from big cities to see if they can cash in on the transformation.

From an almost ghost town emblem of our past, Roscoe is becoming a sign of our future. In the process, it is also giving anew the lesson that smart people can find creative ways to capitalize on a lucrative green revolution as more and more, whether concerned about limiting Global Warming or just down on their luck, are ready to give fresh ideas and technologies a chance.

Source:Winds of Change Blow into Roscoe, Texas. John Burnet on NPR's All Things Considered - Climate Connections; November 27, 2007.

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