Rural Missouri - April 2018 - 5

RM

| PERSPECTIVES

H A RT TO H E A RT

A 'wind-win' for Missouri
by Barry Hart | bhart@amec.coop

I

can still remember a time when experts thought
Missouri was only "marginal" as a potential
location for wind farms. Early attempts at turning wind into energy failed, in large part because
the technology hadn't advanced much beyond the
windchargers that once were used to power radios
in the days before rural electrification.
All that changed in 2007 when leaders from
Missouri's electric cooperatives gathered in a field
near King City to dedicate the Bluegrass Ridge
Wind Farm. That project provided renewable energy
capacity to the electric cooperative grid at a time
when energy use was rapidly growing.
Bluegrass Ridge was pioneering in both its scale
and the technology that harvested the strong winds
that blow through this part of northwest Missouri.
But it wouldn't have been possible without the leadership from Associated Electric Cooperative, where
savvy employees recognized the potential from this
untapped natural resource.
Associated agreed to buy the entire output from
this project, the last link in a chain that made Bluegrass Ridge possible. This commitment, as well as
the strong high-voltage transmission system owned
by Associated and N.W. Electric Power Cooperative,
made wind power a reality in Missouri.
Over the years, additional wind farms sprouted
in Missouri as the state's electric cooperatives added to their renewable resources. The Conception
and Cow Branch wind farms began operation in
2008. Two years later, Lost Creek Wind Farm added
another 100 turbines to King City. In 2012, Associated added power from the Flat Ridge 2 project in
Kansas.
And in 2015, the Osage Wind Farm in Oklahoma
added another 94 turbines to the mix. KAMO Power
helped put the transmission infrastructure in place

to deliver this power to cooperative members.
Early this year, I traveled to Maryville for another
renewable energy announcement held at Northwest
Missouri State University, my alma mater. A large
crowd showed up to support the project including
local farmers, county and city leaders and even
the Northwest Missouri State University President
John Jasinski. Here Associated announced the
signing of a 25-year purchase agreement for 236
megawatts of wind energy from a new project called
Clear Creek to be built in Nodaway County.
Advances in technology make this fifth wind
farm a good fit for Missouri's electric cooperatives.
It's being hailed as a hedge on increases in the price
of fuel - coal and natural gas - used to generate
electricity for members.
It's also going to make a big difference in the
economy of a region that is dependent on agriculture. Area far mers
fortunate
enough
to have a wind turbine on their land
tell me this is the
same as having crop
insurance.
Lease
payments
provide
much-needed income
for farmers in years
when bad weather
destroyed crops.
The economic benefits have extended
beyond
payments
to landowners. Area
businesses from restaurants to hotels
to automotive repair
shops have seen an
increase in business

since the wind farms were built.
Tenaska, the developer of the new Clear Creek
project, estimates its construction will boost the
local economy by $200 million to $300 million. It
will create more than 200 jobs at peak construction and result in up to 15 full-time jobs when it
becomes operational in 2020.
The project also will increase tax revenue by
more than $1.2 million annually, benefitting local
schools and county government, while adding the
same amount in lease payments to area farmers. This revenue will multiply as it works its way
through the area economy.
You could say this agreement is a "wind-win" for
electric cooperative members statewide.
Hart is executive vice president of the Association
of Missouri Electric Cooperatives.

GUEST COLUMN

Broadband: a key to new opportunities
by Marshall Stewart | info@ruralmissouri.coop

A

little more than 18 months ago, I began
crisscrossing Missouri to get a pulse on
what Missourians were thinking. I had
just started in my role as vice chancellor
for extension and engagement at the University of
Missouri and wanted to better understand those I was to serve.
It didn't take long to notice four
common threads running through
the state wherever I discussed needs.
Missourians consistently expressed a
desire for better economic opportunities, healthy futures, educational
access and excellence and access to
broadband internet services.
While the university has no formal responsibility related to public
broadband access, broadband has the
potential to make a significant impact
on issues related to the economy,
Marshall
health and education - areas where
the university has a significant portfolio of information MU Extension can tap to help.
This realization fueled the university's interest
in a dialogue about improving broadband access
across Missouri. It led me to discussions with service providers, legislators, leaders of government
agencies, business and industry regarding opportu-

nities and challenges associated with broadband.
From an opportunity perspective, broadband
has the potential to transform lives, business and
communities. Much like the roles electricity, quality
roads and the telephone played in improving quality
of life in the first half of the last century, broadband
is a necessity for participation in the 21st century.
It is the connection to a global network
of information and commerce.
Broadband
increasingly
drives
innovation in business, health and
education sectors. It is transforming
how business is conducted, how medical professionals diagnose and manage health care and how educational
experiences and information are delivered from pre-K through a Ph.D.
Lack of broadband makes it difficult to attract and retain residents,
physicians and businesses that count
on broadband to connect to the larger world for routine daily tasks and
Stewart
transactions. Put succinctly, in the
21st century, a community without
high-speed internet is at a competitive disadvantage
when it comes to business development, healthcare
and education as well as farming in rural areas.
From an implementation perspective, beyond the
desire of providers to see a return on investment,
there is more than a century of policy, law and prac-

tice concerning electronic communications. This
creates unique challenges.
Fortunately, there is a growing willingness in
Missouri to overcome challenges surrounding the
broadband issue. A working group composed of
leadership from electric co-ops, telecommunications, business and community stakeholders, legislators and officials in state agencies and the university has a clear understanding of the transformative
power of broadband and the challenges surrounding its implementation.
This working group is quietly collaborating to
find a path forward in the interest of the greater
good. The Missouri governor's recently announced
initiative to address broadband in rural communities is a signal that the issue is gaining attention
where it matters.
I am optimistic Missouri is moving in the right
direction and the benefits of broadband will be available throughout the state. Consistent with that, MU
Extension is working on a number of sophisticated
online tools that will allow Missouri's communities
to not only better understand the issues impacting
communities, but also be able to locate information
and resources from MU that help address the desire
for better economic opportunities, healthy futures,
educational access and excellence.
Stewart is vice chancellor for extension and
engagement at the University of Missouri.
APRIL 2018 | RURALMISSOURI.COOP

5


http://www.RURALMISSOURI.COOP

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Rural Missouri - April 2018

Contents
Rural Missouri - April 2018 - Intro
Rural Missouri - April 2018 - Cover1
Rural Missouri - April 2018 - Cover2
Rural Missouri - April 2018 - Contents
Rural Missouri - April 2018 - 4
Rural Missouri - April 2018 - 5
Rural Missouri - April 2018 - 6
Rural Missouri - April 2018 - 7
Rural Missouri - April 2018 - 8
Rural Missouri - April 2018 - 9
Rural Missouri - April 2018 - 10
Rural Missouri - April 2018 - 11
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Rural Missouri - April 2018 - 18
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Rural Missouri - April 2018 - 26
Rural Missouri - April 2018 - 27
Rural Missouri - April 2018 - 28
Rural Missouri - April 2018 - 29
Rural Missouri - April 2018 - 30
Rural Missouri - April 2018 - 31
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Rural Missouri - April 2018 - 33
Rural Missouri - April 2018 - 34
Rural Missouri - April 2018 - 35
Rural Missouri - April 2018 - 36
Rural Missouri - April 2018 - 37
Rural Missouri - April 2018 - 38
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Rural Missouri - April 2018 - 40
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Rural Missouri - April 2018 - 42
Rural Missouri - April 2018 - 43
Rural Missouri - April 2018 - 44
Rural Missouri - April 2018 - 45
Rural Missouri - April 2018 - 46
Rural Missouri - April 2018 - Cover3
Rural Missouri - April 2018 - Cover4
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