Iowa: Don’t turn our back on wind

May 23, 2014 by  
Filed under Green Energy News

The market for wind energy is growing rapidly as technology becomes more advanced and as we rely less and less on fossil fuels for power. Consumers are beginning to invest more in wind because it provides energy with no fuel costs, while the budgetary and environmental costs for other forms of energy continue to rise.

For Iowa, the wind industry represents a major opportunity.

Rock Island Clean Line is a specific opportunity worth discussing. Recently, the project has come under fire from individuals who believe that the line will take away “some of the best farmland in the world” [“It’s Wrong to Force Us to Sell Power Easements,” May 8]. This is simply not the case.

As an Iowa resident who understands the importance of agriculture in our communities, I appreciate Clean Line Energy for taking every possible step to ensure that the planned transmission line route has a minimal impact on farmland and homes. Clean Line will also compensate landowners for voluntary easements of a 145-foot to 200-foot piece of land that is used to operate and maintain the transmission line.

Farmers maintain the rights to the land in the easement area, and less than 1 percent of the agricultural production land is affected.

As a farmer and an Iowan, I think it is reasonable to ask a small group of individuals to give back in order to benefit our whole state and the nation, since in addition to the compensation, landowners and Iowa communities will receive taxes paid by Clean Line that will benefit local schools, parks, and police and fire departments. Additionally, this transmission line has the potential to create 5,000 construction jobs and 500 permanent operations jobs.

In response to those who ask, “What happens when the wind stops?” I ask them to consider the other important infrastructure the state uses on daily basis. Highways and interstates are incredibly valuable to society, even without bumper-to-bumper traffic.

Infrastructure must exist before technology and consumer use is able to fully populate it, much the same way that highways existed before every individual family owned a car or truck. Wind infrastructure requires the same investment to transport the energy available now, while technology advances at an exponential rate to capture and use even more of the energy from wind.

Many Iowa landowners and farmers are already reaping the benefits of Iowa’s existing wind energy. We have a chance to grow that industry, and allow more Iowans to benefit from its development.

We need to focus on using wind energy as a power source and encourage infrastructure, like the Rock Island Clean Line, to transport it.

THE AUTHOR:

CRAIG LANG, a dairy farmer from Brooklyn, is president of Windward Iowa, a nonprofit organization that supports wind energy and electrical infrastructure. He also is a former president of the Iowa Farm Bureau Federation and the Iowa Board of Regents. Contact: calangfarm@gmail.com.

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