The Growing Winds of Sustainability

The Crow Lake Wind Farm efforts at sustainability

Lydia Loopesko
October 16, 2022
Field with one single windmill and sunset in the background

The wind blows pretty steadily across the plains of South Dakota, making it an obvious choice for wind farming. The Crow Lake Wind Project near Chamberlain, SD is the largest cooperative owned wind farm in the US with 108 wind turbines. The turbines create about 192 MW of electricity, which is enough for about 129,000 homes. Since its construction, the wind farm has significantly contributed to local economic development; it has created 120,000 jobs from the local labor pool, increased payments across landowners within the vicinity of the project, and given locals involved the ownership of their own energy source. The project has also been accredited by VCS and is owned and operated by Basin Electric Power Cooperative.

The Crow Lake Wind Project is part of a growing investment in wind energy. According to the Department of Energy, more wind energy was installed in 2020 than any other energy source and it now accounts for 42% of new energy capacity nationally. This increase is likely because there are numerous advantages to wind energy. Wind is a very clean and sustainable source of energy, it is more efficient than solar, and it’s highly cost-effective (it is one of the cheapest sources of energy available today). Furthermore, electricity from wind farms is sold at a fixed price over time so it is less subject to the variation in cost and uncertainty of traditional forms of energy.

Common Questions about Wind Energy

What if the wind isn’t blowing?

A 2015 study by the American Wind Energy Association showed that wind farms actually contributed to the stability of the grid and were even more reliable than conventional power plants. It’s true that wind doesn’t always blow, but it’s likely always blowing somewhere. The grid does not just take energy from a single source, but rather balances out across the network to ensure a stable power supply. That is why when conventional power plants shut down for maintenance there isn’t a power shortage. Instead the energy is taken from elsewhere. The same can be true for wind farms.

What about bird collisions?

A bird flying through the sky with a field of windmills in the background

It’s true that wind farms and associated electrical infrastructure can be harmful to birds, but sources agree that a wind farm in a location that minimizes contact with wildlife is less harmful to birds than the prospect of climate change. Furthermore, the amount of birds killed by windmills is significantly less than the amount being killed by buildings, power lines, and even cats. That being said, keeping wind farms away from known wildlife sanctuaries and migration routes ensures the least amount of damage to bird populations.

What about the noise and aesthetics?

Personally, I find wind turbines quite beautiful, and a symbol of hope for the planet. Not everyone will agree, of course, but their benefit to the planet may encourage you to overlook any negative opinions you might have about their appearance. As for the noise, have you ever been near one? They are actually rather quiet and create little noise pollution. 

Will wind farms decrease property value?

Although some people might not prefer the look of windmills, there is no evidence that homes within close proximity of wind farms have a decreased property value. In fact, some sources suggest that homes near wind farms actually have increased property values. 

A field of windmills with a sunset in the background

What’s Interesting to Us About this Project

Sustainability is often confused with being environmentally friendly or green. This project is both; it helps fight climate change and is sustainable. The real definition of sustainability lies in the root of the word; something that is sustainable can sustain itself. It doesn’t need exterior involvement to continue. This project produces energy for the local community which in turn supports it. One of 108 turbines was given as a gift to the Mitchell Technical College and the college uses it for hands-on training as part of its Wind Turbine Technology Program. The program gives students the critical experience they need to bolster both their careers and the renewable energy industry. Furthermore, it expands the local labor pool and ensures the continuity and sustainability of the project.

Windmill workers working on a windmill

Learn More About Offset Projects

The Crow Lake Wind Project is just one example of the amazing offset projects available to support. If you’re interested in offsetting your company’s or your own carbon footprint, Aclymate has a wide range of amazing offset projects that you can support from emissions capture to biodiversity conservation. In recent years, there has been some criticism surrounding carbon markets and offsets with some claiming that emission reductions are the only answer. And although emission reductions are vital, offsets are also essential to the future of the planet. That is why we’ve made it possible for you to do both. Through Aclymate, you can measure, reduce, and offset you/your company’s emissions all in one place. Our technology makes the process straightforward and easy for everyone. 

Click here to get started or learn more about carbon markets and offsets here.

For more climate education visit our Climate Education blog posts.

Lydia Loopesko
October 16, 2022

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