Wind Turbines: Rick Jarrett
Madison County – Elwood, IN
If you have ever driven through Elwood, Indiana you likely noticed the expansive renewable energy project. WildCat 1, developed by E.ON, consists of 125 wind turbines, 7 of which reside on land owned by on third-generation farmer, Rick Jarrett. These 125 turbines create enough energy to power 435,500 homes per year.
Rick decided to get involved in this project after being approached by E.ON land acquisition representatives for the WildCat 1 project. These project developers met with area landowners to discuss participating in the project and Jarrett decided he wanted to learn more. Rick admits that he did quite a bit of research as he considered participating. He met multiple times with E.On’s land acquisition team, visited another wind turbine project in Benton County, and finally, he went to the Madison County Court to get the building permits. Rick said of the process, “…really, it was painless, it was simple.” Rick said one of the most important parts of the project’s success was relationship building. His recommendation to those interested in starting their own renewable energy projects is to “make friends with your contractors…they’ll do anything for you.”
In a utility-scale project such as Rick’s, landowners do not invest their own money into the project. Instead, the 40-50 landowners within this project are compensated in multiple ways through a base payment, easement payment, and a yearly land rental payment. Rick recalls when asked why he decided to participate in the WildCat 1 project, “We decided for us, as a family farm, the revenue was good, and the payments are always good.” This extra stream of income has many benefits to landowners including providing regular funds to invest in crop inputs, more land, or to help manage expenses.
Energy Generation and Distribution
The electricity generated by the project travels through the power grid up to Northern Indiana and Michigan. On average 1 tower generates 1.6 MW (megawatts) of electricity per day. While turbines don’t last forever, they do work for a rather long time and should generate power for up to 30 years. After that time, the owners of Wild Cat 1, along with developer, E.ON, can decide to recommission the turbines (meaning refurbish or update them), or the project can be torn down using funds previously set aside by the county.
Overall, Rick is pleased that he made the decision to participate in the project and takes satisfaction in the project besides the revenue boost, “We feel we are doing our part to go green.”
To learn more about Rick Jarrett’s renewable energy experience and his wind turbines, watch IN-ACRE’s interview with him here.