Road Use Agreement
As a result of the precautionary measures outlined in the Road Use Agreement, Benton County and Pattern Energy experienced relatively seamless road preparation and repair before, during and after the Amazon Wind Farm Fowler Ridge construction.
Before Benton County began the Amazon Wind Farm Fowler Ridge project, they had already completed four wind farms and had ironed out many of the kinks in the process. The updated processes used for the Amazon Wind Farm Fowler Ridge will be replicated without significant variation as more wind energy companies set their sights on Benton County.
Thanks to successful collaboration and agreements between wind energy companies and government officials, wind farms have brought Benton County a number of additional environmental and community benefits. According to statistics available on the Benton County website, compared to coal-fired energy production, Amazon Wind Farm Fowler Ridge conserves enough water to meet the needs of approximately 8,000 people per year and reduces carbon dioxide emissions by an amount equivalent to removing 110,000 cars from the roads each year that the turbines operate.
During a 2018 Board of Zoning Appeals public meeting about a new wind farm, there were fewer questions and requests for information about the project than in the past. The Benton County economic development director credited this apparent change in public concerns to the landowners’ financial gain, the benefits that the increase in tax revenue provided to the County’s residents and the community’s satisfaction with the information they had received in the past about similar projects.
The Amazon Wind Farm Fowler Ridge project contributed approximately $40 million to the regional economy, including $5 million in tax revenue. Between 2008 and 2018, taxes on wind farms have permitted the County to allocate an additional $3 million to schools, $35 million to new roads and $31 million in economic development. Dispersed by the Benton County Treasurer in installments to the County until the year 2038, the economic development funding is designed to attract new businesses and retain current ones. Additionally, the County is anticipating $14 million in total from two new projects that are currently underway.
The additional tax revenue permitted the County to upgrade their medical response capacity by training staff and purchasing the equipment required to elevate all of their emergency medical technicians abilities to those of paramedics. The townships’ libraries have all received considerable money as a result of the wind farm tax revenue. Additionally, the assessed values of real estate properties in the county have increased since the arrival of wind farms.
Benton County Economic Development Director Paul Jackson gave this advice:
"If I had to do it all over again, I would do almost everything the same way. During the Amazon Wind Farm Fowler Ridge project, only one road was not stabilized properly, but that issue was quickly resolved."