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Producing Excellence

Mike McLain

Gruver, TX

MC Cattle

Products: Corn, wheat, milo, cattle and wind energy

Size of Operation: 47 wind turbines

In Business Since: 1973 for farming, 2002 for wind energy

Farm Credit Partner: AgTexas Farm Credit Services

Working with Farm Credit Since: 1976

In 2002, farmer and rancher Mike McLain came upon a group of men inspecting an abandoned microwave tower on his Texas ranch, and discovered that they were looking for a potential place to install wind-research equipment. Recognizing a way to diversify his agricultural operation as well as harness the wind that is often viewed as a nuisance, Mike agreed to let the group install the research equipment as long as he’d be the first landowner they talked to if they decided to build wind turbines in the area.

The research proved fruitful, with enough wind energy available at the site to justify the expense of installing turbines to capture it, and wildlife impact studies, land surveys and Environmental Protection Agency research were also successful. In 2006, construction of 47 turbines began on Mike’s wind farm, eight of which generate 1.2 megawatts each and 39 of which produce 2.2 megawatts apiece.

Since one megawatt of wind energy can generate electricity for 225 to 300 households, Mike’s wind farm can power up to nearly 29,000 homes. The energy generated by Mike’s turbines is sent to a collection facility a few miles away. From there, it’s sent to Southwestern Public Service/Xcel Energy customers in Colorado, Minnesota and New Mexico who specify that they want to purchase wind energy.

Although he earns a percentage of the revenue from the sale of the wind power generated on his land, Mike is foremost a farmer and rancher, growing up in agriculture and starting his own operation in 1973. Today he farms corn, wheat and milo as well as being a partner in MC Cattle, his family’s stocker and fed-cattle operation. He says, The turbines have been very compatible with farming and ranching. It’s been a little difficult with our irrigated land, but we’ve made it work. The cattle don’t seem to mind the turbines much because they walk right underneath them.

As for how Mike feels about them, he says, I used to curse the wind, but now I wake up in the morning and say ‘let ’er blow.’

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