University of Michigan Gateway Ford School

Wind Enery and Farmland Preservation

Wind Enery and Farmland Preservation

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June 2018

Abstract

This article, published in the May/June 2018 issue of Michigan Planner, the magazine of the Michigan Association of Planning, considers how wind energy development effects farmland preservation.  Laying out the challenges faced by two different types of farming communities—those growing and those shrinking—it discusses how the revenues derived from wind development can keep farmers on the land in both.  It includes data drawn from a survey of Michigan land owners finding farmers which host wind turbines are reinvesting the revenue they receive from the wind developer in their property and that a younger generation of farmers are more willing to take over the farm when they know they can count on wind revenues.  It also discusses, though, how wind development can lead to tensions between those who value the rural landscape for its productive capacity and those who value it for aesthetic reasons.  It provides practical suggestions about when to start planning for wind energy and in which zoning districts wind turbines might fit best.

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