Finding Climate Leaders In Unexpected Places
In the span of 15 years, Texas went from having almost no wind power to generating 11 percent of all its power from wind. In fact, if Texas were a country, it would be the 6th largest provider of wind power in the world. The support for this expansion came from two leaders you might not expect – former Texas governors George W. Bush and Rick Perry.
As this ClearPath blog points out, Texas conservatives like wind power because it’s economical – cheaper than both coal and nuclear power. It also helps keep harmful pollutants out of the air. Those are benefits all Americans can appreciate, regardless of their political beliefs. Wind power has also helped revitalize rural Texas towns like Roscoe (not the first place this has happened), and provide a new source of income for farmers like Cliff Etheredge, who now harvests wind as well as cotton.
Farmers in Roscoe “used to cuss the wind”
In Texas, when your Dairy Queen closes shop and leaves, you know your town is dying. Just ask Cliff Etheredge. Cliff is a one-armed cotton farmer living in Roscoe, Texas, where the farming is tough and passing cars no longer stop. “We lost our Dairy Queen about ten years ago [in 2004]” he explains, “and we knew we were in trouble then.”
But then Cliff noticed something from his cotton farm, something that sparked an idea that became a vision that would save the town of Roscoe. He saw people building wind turbines.
Roscoe is always windy. “We used to cuss the wind,” Cliff says. “Killed our crops, carried our moisture away, dried out our land.” But what if Roscoe could harvest and sell that wind?
That was Cliff’s vision. He studied wind energy, and began talking with nearby farmers and faraway investors. He went to finance meetings in New York wearing his cowboy hat and his cowboy boots. “I was the only guy there without a black pinstripe suit and a tie,” he says. “Talk about a fish out of water.” He kept working, and then one day, it all paid off.
Image credit: Cineplex