In the Good News DepartmentBy Katherine Dalton for FRONT PORCH REPUBLIC
Down in West Texas there is a one-armed cotton farmer named Cliff Etheredge who has turned the sirocco that blows through his part of the country into an asset—and not just for himself, but for hundreds of his neighbors.
“We used to pray for rain and curse the wind,” Mr. Etheredge tells filmmaker Peter Byck in the recently released documentary Carbon Nation. But now he and four hundred of his neighbors in Roscoe are wind farming, in what is at the moment the largest wind farm in the country. Here turbines are slowly turning above hundreds of small, contiguous plots of land. Nobody is getting rich, but all these farm families are earning a good chunk of money a year (thousands of dollars in straight royalties based on the power generated) to produce clean wind energy for 250,000 people.
People in Roscoe have been growing cotton over a steadily depleting aquifer, and the town had been dying, but now some of its children are moving back to work in energy.
You can see part of the Etheredge interview and learn more about the Carbon Nation documentary here. For more on wind farming and other renewables in Texas, see this Popular Mechanics article. Or visit the Roscoe Wind Council site here.