U.S. wind power drives unmatched economic development into rural America. Because of extra income from wind projects, family farmers and ranchers have a new source of stable income, small-town schools districts can offer their students top-notch educations and local taxes stay low.

“Wind energy, the fastest-growing source of electricity in the U.S., is transforming low-income rural areas in ways not seen since the federal government gave land to homesteaders 150 years ago,” Nebraska’s Omaha World-Herald reported.

Every year, wind projects pay over $1.6 billion in state and local taxes and landowner lease payments. Lease income can make the difference between continuing a multi-generation tradition and having to sell off the family farm. This steady revenue helps them when commodity prices fluctuate or bad weather hurts the harvest. It’s a new drought-proof cash crop.

Local schools often reap some of the largest wind farm benefits. Wind projects substantially expand local tax bases, helping schools offer new services and improve facilities. For example, researchers from Oklahoma State University found wind farms in the Sooner State will pay schools over $1 billion during their lifetimes. That means educators can buy new computers, build athletic fields and offer college-level courses in places where they previously didn’t have the resources to offer these opportunities.

Over 99 percent of operating wind energy capacity is in rural areas. As wind farms expand the tax base in these areas, it creates new revenue to fix roads, fund law enforcement and keep taxes low. For example, Sheldon, NY fully eliminated local taxes for eight years because wind income covered its entire budgetary needs.