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Project Update: Greensburg Groundbreaking

Posted by The NativeEnergy Team on Oct 30, 2009
Tags: greensburg wind farm, wind energy, carbon projects, proj. supporter program

On Friday, October 23, 2009, NativeEnergy broke ground on its largest ever carbon offset project: the Greensburg Wind Farm. Three of us from NativeEnergy attended, along with two of the eight Charter Supporters for the Greensburg Wind Farm: Paul Comey of Green Mountain Coffee and Evan Miller of Aveda. This unique experience allowed some of us who have been helping build this project from afar to come up close and touch the turbines (even sign one of the blades!). We met people from Greensburg who were profoundly affected by the tornado disaster of 2007, and witnessed how this wind farm will make a major difference in the lives of each community member.

Once the wind farm is built, it will produce 12.5MW of electricity every year. That is enough to power 4,000 homes. The City of Greensburg originally had a population of just 1,400 – recent post-disaster data estimate the current population to be about 900. The city will retain enough of the renewable energy credits (RECs) resulting from this wind farm to claim that the city is powered 100% by wind energy. The remaining credits will go to NativeEnergy and its clients. 

Financial feasibility was a barrier to building the Greensburg Wind Farm for developer John Deere Wind Energy. NativeEnergy’s commitment to buy the environmental attributes generated by the wind farm in Greensburg provides an essential upfront revenue stream for the developer, enabling the project to go forward.

Roughly 300 people attended the midday groundbreaking event that Friday. A school bus shipped people from the parking lot of one of nine churches in town. This primarily agrarian community sat quietly to listen to the nine speakers, and enjoyed lunch and the displays by the companies involved in the project: NativeEnergy, John Deere Wind Energy, Suzlon, Greensburg GreenTown, and a few others. The overarching vibe from the crowd was optimistic, yet quite reserved.

The town itself was quiet. Most of the town is still destroyed, and the activity on that windy day (no surprise there) appeared to be limited to the road crew rebuilding Main Street. However, there were pockets of smart-looking buildings like the local Arts Center, and the new city hall, which will be ready for occupancy in a couple of weeks. We had the opportunity gather at the silo eco-home after the groundbreaking, where Greensburg GreenTown hosted a small reception for the NativeEnergy contingent and others directly involved in the project.

One notable emblem of hope was the Green Bean Café. Every single resident of Greensburg was displaced for several days after the tornado. Many called it a total loss and moved away permanently. One such resident moved away for a time, but exemplifying the dedication of community, she returned to Greensburg to open a café on Main Street. Not surprisingly, our special guest from Green Mountain Coffee, Paul Comey, connected with her story of optimism and is working to help her "Brew a Better World" (to coin a Green Mountain Coffee phrase). It seems the community of Greensburg now reaches way beyond the city limits.

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