An agricultural equipment maker is launching a multi-million dollar investment project in a new sort of harvest that involves -not- turning the soil but turning giant wind propellers. Ken Golden, spokesman for Quad Cities-based Deere and Company, says they’ve created a business unit to provide project development, debt financing and other services to those interested in harvesting the wind. Golden says Deere is “investing in wind energy, helping farmers in rural America and probably in other parts of the world eventually, harvest the wind, just as we’ve helped them for many, many decades to harvest other great, productive crops. This will be a helpful shot in the arm for rural economies and it certainly will help the farmer.” He says Deere will -not- be involved in making wind turbines, only in making the equity investments. Golden says they found investors who were interested in Minnesota and Texas and determined they’re good areas for harvesting the wind, adding, there’s science involved in determining windflow and where best to position turbines. Deere, which is one of Iowa’s largest employers, has not invested in wind projects in Iowa but Golden says that’s a near-certainty for the future. There’s a sizable wind farm in northern Iowa already but he says that’s not the sort of operation Deere will target. He says it won’t be large wind farms with lots of turbines, but only small farm projects with two or three turbines generating power that will be aggregated with other farmers’ energy and sold to a utility. Golden says the wind energy initiative is consistent with Deere’s goal of helping customers improve their profitability and productivity. Golden says Deere has made eight-million dollars in wind project investments so far with plans to invest almost 60-million by the end of the year. Wind power was used to produce fewer than seven-thousand megawatts of power in the U.S. last year but estimates are it could reach 100-thousand megawatts by 2020.
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