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John Deere Reaps the Wind
By Duff McDonald

(Business 2.0) - It's been helping farmers squeeze a living from the land for more than 150 years. Now $22 billion John Deere wants to help them squeeze even more from the skies.

Deere (Research) has begun offering investment stakes in wind turbines to customers with the right "wind regime" and proximity to transmission lines. Farmers earn money by leasing the wind rights to their land--which can bring in an estimated $4,000 a year per turbine--or by becoming investors in the turbines and selling power to utilities for about $7,500 a year.

With this new venture, Deere is tapping a rapidly growing industry: U.S. wind farms cranked out 17 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity in 2005 and are expected to harvest 100 billion kilowatt-hours by 2020. Deere buys turbines from India and sells financing through its credit division. So far the program has placed more than 40 1.25-megawatt turbines in Minnesota and Texas. Dave Norgaard, who farms 1,200 acres of corn and soy beans in Tyler, Minn., is working with Deere to develop a seven-turbine wind farm. "I've bought a lot of equipment from Deere over the years," Norgaard says. "It was as good a fit as you could find." Top of page

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