How Renewable Energy Helped Save a Community (Center)
Small rural communities in Indiana are struggling. They don’t have many economic development prospects, so when they do, we need to do everything we can to support them. Thankfully, renewable energy projects have become a key part of the economic prosperity of many communities. They pay millions in tax revenue once built, bring in hundreds of jobs during construction, and provide a new source of income for family famers. And sometimes, just their presence offers some incredible community opportunities that never would have materialized otherwise – and that’s exactly what happened in Huntsville.
Huntsville, Indiana is a small unincorporated town in Randolph County – so small that as an unincorporated town it has no central board in charge of town matters. As a testament to Hoosier spirit, the community is held together by the legacy and descendants of families committed to keeping a “town” alive.
Thankfully, renewable energy projects have become a key part of the economic prosperity of many communities. They pay millions in tax revenue once built, bring in hundreds of jobs during construction, and provide a new source of income for family famers.
The Huntsville Community Center is very important to my family—it offers an invaluable gathering place for area residents. When COVID-19 forced the community center to lose revenue, we were worried about potentially having to close our doors and how losing such a gathering place would impact our community. But thanks to the local presence of EDP Renewables North America (EDPR NA), things are looking up.
EDPR NA is the owner and operator of the Riverstart Solar Park—currently under construction in Randolph County—which sits close to the Huntsville Community Center. Because of that proximity, Ames Construction, the company working on Riverstart, decided to support the community center by renting office space. I am by no means exaggerating when I say that during COVID-19, that rental income helped save our community center.
While this rental is not coming directly from EDPR NA, they helped make it happen. Their company has proven to be an excellent neighbor to Randolph County time and time again. From the beginning, EDPR NA has always come forward and supported their words with actions that if they can make an opportunity happen for our community, they will.
During COVID-19, this support is needed more than ever. Our communities need corporate partners who are involved in and care about the long-term impact of their work for community members. EDPR NA is such a company.
Whether providing new income to farmers, supporting jobs and local businesses during construction, paying millions in property taxes that support schools, first responders and more, working with local organizations, or simply helping to save a community center, wind and solar projects add immensely to a community. I’m so proud we’ve had the opportunity to have wind and solar here in Randolph County.
Greg Beumer is an economic development consultant and former Randolph County state representative.