Finding a way to that solid future was part of the Carvers’ decision to sign a wind development agreement with Portland-based Iberdrola Renewables, a subsidiary of a Spanish energy company. Though the Carvers won’t say how much the deal brings them, it was enough to see that it could help secure the future of the ranch. Iberdrola also sponsored Imperial Yarn at Portland Fashion Week.
“Three years ago they descended like locusts,” remembers Dan. “Twelve companies approached us. The neighbors had signed contracts. I knew I was going to look at turbines no mater what. And wind income would help us keep the ranch in the family .... Times have changed, the economy has changed. Farmers are looking for other income other than running cows or raising wheat.”
The size of the ranch and its high elevation made it ideal for wind exploration. The Carvers are one of eight landowners in the area who have signed with Iberdrola. If wind development goes forward, there could be up to 202 wind towers on Imperial land, generating as much as 303 megawatts. Income to the ranch would be considerable. The project is still under evaluation, but Iberdrola says it plans to submit a site certificate application to the state early this year.
“Here’s how I see the evolution [of the ranch’s economy]. The homesteader couldn’t make it. The little guys are still disappearing,” Dan says. “I look at sustainability in its true form. There are three parts: social, economic and environmental. If you’re going broke, you’re not sustainable.”
“It might happen, and it’s just as likely not to,” Jeanne says. “The future of this ranch is secure regardless of wind power."