It seems that if you have enough money, you can slap your name on any ol’ thing: stadiums, theaters, sporting events, and now wind farms.
When John Deere Wind Energy opens its eight-turbine, 10 megawatt wind farm in Texas this May, it will be setting a precedent by allowing Steelcase, a furniture company out of Grand Rapids, Mich., to purchase the rights to name its little windmills.
[Steelcase] has committed to buying the farm’s entire output of renewable energy credits — the alternative energy version of carbon offsets, usually just called R.E.C.’s — for its first five years of operation. And it is paying a premium — it declines to say how much — for the right to name it the Wege Wind Energy Farm, after Peter Wege, the son of the founder of Steelcase and a prominent environmentalist in Michigan.
Part of the allure is that these premiums for naming wind farms could help make possible smaller projects which would not have been otherwise economically viable. This type of marketing is expected to be a growing trend in the wind industry as the demand for clean power takes off and more and more companies gobble up limited RECs.
I suppose it’s not like anyone is erecting a huge neon billboard on the clean white blades of the turbines, but what should we do if Exxon Mobil wants rights to “James Inhofe Wind Energy Farm”?