We own a ranch near Monticello, Utah, just outside the city limit. We raise about 200 head of beef cattle on our land and we raise hay and wheat as well. All together we manage about 5000 acres on our ranch and on BLM land leased to us.
My dad and grand-dad were ranchers, so I've been a farmer and rancher since I was a boy.
A few years back, we had four wind groups come through town and they were all trying to get us landowners to sign lease agreements so the could build a big wind farm here in San Juan County.
At, first I said to myself, "This thing is never gonna go." I thought it was an exercise in futility to tell the truth.
I'll tell you, the first boy that came through, well I wanted more money for the yearly rental payment than he wanted to offer. Then I met Christine Watson Mikell and we got down to business.
She's good at dealing with people. Sometimes when things weren't going my way, she would listen and she was able to see my side of things instead of just getting argumentative.
"Christine told us what the project was going to be like even, before they started building. She kept us up to speed every step of the way, sending us regular emails and once in awhile, she'd call me on the phone. She told us the truth about what was going on."
Every landowner involved in this project had to figure out how leasing their property for what's called an easement would affect their property, setting aside acreage for towers or transmission lines. We negotiated a lease for a transmission line that connects to the power company’s substation.
Now, since I raise wheat and hay, I couldn't have junk in the way of my irrigation lines, so I had them build the transmission line three-quarters of a mile from where they originally wanted to put it.
You know, some folks are nasty and some are nice. Christine's a nice gal and she did a good job.
I'll tell you, if I were running a company instead of running my ranch, Christine would be on the list of people I would like to hire to run my company.
I'm in the business of trying to make a living for my family. Since we signed the lease agreement, my wife and I get a little money to set aside for our retirement while we're still working hard on the ranch. And this will be here for my boys whenever we decide it's time to slow down and retire.
I'm not ready for that yet. Holy cow! This is fun, this is just what we do. I get to go out and four-wheel to check on cows, run a tractor, ride a horse. When you're doing what you love, it's not work. It's a good thing I love it because there's no such thing as a forty hour day.
As for the wind project, the wind turbines, there are folks in town who still complain they ruin their beautiful view of the mountain. We probably got more flack from local people than we did from anybody else.
The thing is, things have to change to make progress. And so, for me and my family, this wind project has been good for all of us, and in my opinion, it's been good for our community.