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In the case of Junction Hilltop, the temporary federal grant program was crucial in enabling the partners to fund the project locally.

Wind accepts the possibility that the temporary grant program will not be renewed. He, Sutton, and other partners are actively lobbying for an extension of both the production tax credit and, in particular, an investment tax credit, which is more directly helpful to small wind farm owners.

All federal tax credits are set to expire at the end of 2012. Although some voices from Washington are confident of the renewal of at least the production tax credit, there is currently no scheduled time frame for passing legislation.

Taking a break from wind farm advocacy and full-time farming, Bill Sutton reflects on the wind projects in Greene County and the potential for further local projects in the state.

Benjamin Yoder of Home State Bank
(top, with Tom Wind), sees Junction
Hilltop Wind Farm as an investment
in quality of life for Jefferson.

Since Hardin Hilltop, a number of local projects have emerged, including wind farms in Greenfield, Ruthven, Story City, and Traer.

“People are starting to realize the benefits of community wind, and there are different models emerging,” he says, describing Greenfield’s approach in which a large number of community members each contribute a share of the construction costs and then share the benefits.

“That’s truly community wind.”

Whatever form local wind takes in the future, Jefferson’s seven sentinels will always have pride of place in Iowa’s history as the first.

As the graceful white arms of Hardin Hilltop spin in the late July air and his three young children run knee-deep in the bliss of summer vacation, David Ausberger puts this honor into very human terms: “I want my grandchildren to say one day that their grandpa was part of the first locally owned wind farm in Iowa. I want that to be my mark on the community.”

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