Most of us know that there are ways to make the world a greener place, but we get frustrated when we don’t see our actions making an immediate difference. A group of high school kids in rural Milford, Utah, are seeing the benefits of their efforts, and in a big way. The kids and their teacher Andy Swapp are responsible for bringing a 200 megawatt wind farm to their town – that’s enough energy to power 44,000 Southern California homes. The resulting increase in tax revenue has revitalized the town’s economy, and the whole project has given the town’s residents an increased sense of pride in their community.
Milford High School teacher Andy Swapp’s curiosity was piqued one day when he was plowing a field on his farm. The wind blew so hard that the soil he’d plowed up effectively sandblasted the side of his barn. Seeing the wind’s power made him wonder just how hard it was blowing, which led to him obtaining an anemometer to measure its strength. The teacher couldn’t let this unique learning experience go to waste, so he invited his students to his farm to help him put up the tower. Within weeks, energy companies showed an interest in the project and Swapp’s data.
That little class project eventually turned into a 200MW wind farm backed by First Wind. Already, the town of Milford is reporting increased revenues in service and retail segments of their economy. A new hospital is being built with the tax funds generated by the farm. And maybe the best part of this project is the reaction from the students and other Milford residents. They have a renewed sense of pride in their hometown and the knowledge that they can do great things that will impact countless other people. Their wind farm isn’t just an environmental achievement or a community service project – it’s an inspiration to everyone who ever thought that they couldn’t make a difference. What started out as a fun field trip has turned into a project that stabilized a town’s economy, renewed the residents’ sense of community, and moved the entire country one step closer to clean power.
The first phase of the Milford Wind Corridor Project became operational in October 2009. According to the Salt Lake Tribune, the 97 towers and wind turbines cover more than 40 square miles and connect to an 88-mile-long transmission line providing power to Southern California. The entire project cost over $400 million and invested about $84.5 million in Utah businesses and laborers. The project created 240 related jobs in construction and operation. There’s more information about the Milford project and other First Wind projects at their website.
(Thanks to Jean for the tip!)