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Wind farm windfall boosts Henry County coffers

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Wind turbines rise from Henry County corn fields. They generate clean energy for the Tennessee Valley Authority. But with 133 turbines operating and 50 more for Mid American Energy, it also makes quite a financial statement locally.

"Literally millions of dollars have been poured into the local economy as a result of the construction of this facility," said Craig Gordon, marketing director for Invenergy.

That's why the Chicago-based company presented a check for more than $1.1 million on Tuesday. It's the first property tax payment to Henry County. Some 200 land owners also shared a similar payment. It's just the start of this public-private partnership.

"Any time you can take a renewable resource and make income off it, why not?" said Megan Keilman, Galva.

That economic impact supports a variety of Henry County projects. That includes roads, schools and the Bishop Hill Visitor's Center.

Money is helping this village to preserve its rich history. That includes renovating buildings and boosting tourism. Wind farm money makes a big difference.

"Without the wind farm money, a lot of the projects would not have gotten done," said Todd DeDecker, administrator for the Bishop Hill Heritage Association.

Bishop Hill mirrors what's happening all across Henry County. Wind farm money is helping the region to take care of business during tough times.

"Everything needs help," said Tom Owens, Cambridge. "It's going to do it."

While Invenergy says it needs more favorable state policies to keep building, the future still looks bright for wind energy.

"We know where our revenues are coming from for the next 20 years," Gordon said. "It's a great win for the company. It's a great win for the local community."

At this farm, they're winning with wind.

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