Back to Days 197-199: Wild Wild Wind in Texas…

remember back in January when we were traipsing through the Southern states to avoid winter’s sting? Well, some of those states got the shaft in the blogging department, and the biggest state in the Union was hit hardest. Here we’ll catch up on what YERT found a little further West – in Roscoe/Sweetwater, Texas.

We spent some time with David Etheredge and his Dad, retired cotton farmer Cliff Etheredge, on Cliff’s farm. Cliff saw wind turbines going up on the hills of Sweetwater and thought, why not on the flat farms of Roscoe? There’s plenty of wind… He traveled to NYC and talked to some people until he got a bite with the people at Airtricity, who came, surveyed the land, and have since installed hundreds of turbines providing power to thousands of West Texas homes.

It may seem unlikely for a state that has historically been our nation’s biggest oil producer to be courting wind, but this is real, and it is really exciting. What’s blowing in West Texas is a healthy interest in wind energy that benefits both the farmer and the environment. The windcoalition website states that, now, “Texas leads the Western Hemisphere in wind energy production, generating enough to power nearly 600,000 homes. This summer, the state surpassed California to become the largest producer of wind energy in the nation.”

We rolled into the Sweetwater, TX convention center late Tuesday to meet Mayor Greg Wortham at the local 4H show. Lambs, rabbits, and chickens were being judged – and kids of all sizes were muscling their critters into acceptable stances of presentation for show. Here we had the really cool opportunity to talk to several farmers whose lives have changed dramatically…thanks to the power of wind. Apparently, there is an epidemic of “dying” towns all over the Mid- and Southwest. Farming has not gotten any easier for those trying to make a living independent of large scale industry. Although wind is an intermittent source of energy, having the turbines gives farmers two things to depend on for cash instead of just their crop. With wind turbines on their farms, farmers have doubled their possible income, and found security they’ve never experienced before.

Wouldn’t it be great to see this trend continue all over the country?

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