Redwood Falls is one of many communities that boasts green energy infrastructure improvements. West of town stand two wind turbines that harness the natural and plentiful winds in our region, converting them into usable energy. A wind turbine occupies less than one-half acre of land and only requires wind speeds of about seven miles per hour in order to turn the giant propellers.
Each of the 1,650 kW turbines produces enough renewable electricity to power about 700 homes.
The pair was completed between December  2004 and February 2005; the construction took about four months to complete from the time more than 450 tons of concrete were poured per tower until each was activated.
The units include parts made in USA and in European countries, and the largest, most visible pieces (including the massive blades which stand taller than the Statue of Liberty and move 138 mph at the tips,)  were shipped to Redwood Falls from Denmark.
Minnesota is the ninth windiest state, and so harnessing the resource makes a great deal of sense for the region, both environmentally and economically.
“Each turbine has the environmental effect of taking one car off the road for a year or planting three acres of trees,” said Daniel Hayes of the Southwestern Minnesota Municipal Power Agency (SMMPA). “Many jobs have been created in Minnesota to build and maintain turbines.”
The American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) reports about 20 million homes are powered each year in the U.S. by wind turbines in 2015. They estimated about 88,000 people are employed by the industry nationwide.
Hayes points out that costs have continued to decline year after year even though growth has continued to increase.
The widening gap between costs and market demand continue to make wind power a valuable source of energy despite a rapidly changing industry.
A recent Berkley study published in the journal  Nature Energy estimates that gap will continue to grow which will make the industry even more profitable and cites efficiency increases, lower capital and operating costs and other advancements.
Berkley estimates efficiency gains of 24-30 percent in the next 15 years and then an additional 11 percent in the decades following.
A U.S. Department of Energy study shows a cost decline for wind power through the years. Costs have already come down 90 percent between 1980 and 2013.
The AWEA points out that wind towers are expected to operate for 20 years or  more and that at least 70 percent of the costs for wind-power operations are tied to capital investments and those costs have plummeted.
That’s what has been driving the market upswing in recent years (making it one of the lowest cost and least risky green energy resources.)
The estimated life-span of local turbines lines up well with the Berkley study’s efficiency/cost projections.
When it comes time to replace them the venture should prove to be an even greater efficiency and profitability.
Between energy projects, such as the local hydroelectric plant and the wind turbines, it is easy to see that Redwood Falls is an increasingly green place to live.