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Wind Energy Offers Ohio Farmers Opportunities, Risks

August 11, 2008

Ottawa, OH – Here's a cautionary note to those interested in investing in Ohio's growing alternative energy industry. Wind energy advocate and farm leader Joe Logan with the Ohio Farmers Union says: Go slow before you open up your land to any outside interests. He says there are concerns we could end up with "consolidated control" in the industry, similar to what we now have with oil and coal and, he says, we need a different model.

"We would like to try to configure the industry from the ground up, to where many participants can enjoy the wealth that has been created by the energy sector. We think that this is possible with community-based energy development."

Logan says a public-private type of partnership can generate a steady and significant source of revenue for a community.

"We think there is a tremendous capability in rural America and rural Ohio in terms of management, in terms of doing the sort of green jobs that everybody talks about being our future. These are the sorts of projects that can generate enough wealth to build infrastructure, to build schools, to build hospitals, to do the sort of things that every community needs to do to support itself."

Logan says the advice to land owners in this case is: seller, beware.

"There seems to be a land rush that is somewhat similar to the gold rush days and the oil rush days, to go out there and sign folks up to essentially commit the land rights on their farms for an individual lessee. What we're urging those folks to consider is to pause and take a look at a template that could provide a much larger return for a much longer period of time, and can really turn those communities around."

Logan says that means community residents and farmers can join in partnership with venture capitalists in way that allows the outside investors a big return on their initial investment, then sends the lion's share of the project's profits back to the local, rural communities. Logan notes there are enough potential profits in the alternate energy development to satisfy all interests.

Deborah Smith/Steve Powers, Public News Service - OH