Wind energy is often framed as a factor in rural economic development, an element of the emerging “green economy” destined to upset the dominant greenhouse- gas-emitting energy industry and deliver conscious capitalism to host communities. The bulk of wind energy firms, however, are subsidiaries of the same fossil fuel companies that wrought havoc in shale-gas and coal-mining towns from rural Appalachia to the Great Plains. On its own, wind energy development does not automatically translate into community development.
In Governing the Wind Energy Commons, Keith Taylor asks whether revenue generated by wind power can be put to community well-being rather than corporate profit. He looks to the promising example of rural electric cooperatives, owned and governed by the 42 million Americans they serve, which generate $40 billion in annual revenue. Through case studies of a North Dakota wind energy cooperative and an investor-owned wind farm in Illinois, Taylor examines how regulatory and social forces are shaping this emerging energy sector. He draws on interviews with local residents to assess strategies for tipping the balance of power away from absentee-owned utilities.