Iowa scores big again in wind energy (Globe Gazette editorial)

December 18, 2013 by  
Filed under Green Energy News

Iowa leads the U.S. in the percentage of electricity generated by wind with 24.5 percent of its electricity in 2012 coming from wind power, according to the American Wind Energy Association. Now that’s saying something.

On Monday, Iowa got even more to boast about in the wind industry field: The biggest economic development project in the state’s history.

Indeed, we have plenty to blow our own horns about when it comes to wind power. And the tune got even sweeter Monday with thec announcement that MidAmerican Energy is contracting with Siemens Energy to make all 448 wind turbines the company is installing in Iowa. By the time the turbines are ready to blow in the wind, it will have meant a $1.9 billion development.

“Mid American’s expansion will be the largest economic development project in the history of our state, bringing needed jobs to Iowa as well as significant economic benefits,” said Gov. Terry Branstad, who announced the project with company officials.

It’s also the largest onshore wind turbine order in the world, according to Siemens, which opened in Fort Madison in 2007 and now is doing business nationally and internationally, including in Brazil, Chile and Sweden.

The project will create about 1,000 construction jobs during the two-year building period as well as support about 40 permanent jobs, and will mean about 500 jobs at the Siemens operation in Lee County. Siemens also will be responsible for service and maintenance of the turbines.

MidAmerican got approval from the Iowa Utilities Board earlier this year for the project that will see hundreds of wind turbines go up in Grundy, Madison, Marshall, O’Brien and Webster counties by the end of 2015.

Those turbines — each has a rotor diameter of about 350 feet — will generate enough electricity to power the equivalent of 317,000 average households, and will mean the equivalent of about 25 percent of Iowa’s energy portfolio will come from wind production.

MidAmerican is a giant in the wind business. Since 2004 it has installed 1,267 wind turbines in Iowa. That represents an investment of about $4 billion, making it the largest rate-regulated utility owner of wind generation in the United States.

Siemens and MidAmerican are not the only winners in this megadeal. The project will add $360 million in additional property taxes, according to MidAmerican, and farmers allowing turbines to be placed on their land will be paid $3 million a year.

So the numbers are fantastic all the way around — from the initial stages of the project to the end result, electricity flowing from these new turbines.

MidAmerican and Siemens are to be commended for working out the deal to keep the production and jobs in Iowa, and state officials get a nod for working with the companies.

Wind energy and renewable fuels like ethanol have been a boon for the state, helping the environment at the same time helping the economy.

As Adam Wright, vice president of wind generation and development for MidAmerican said Monday, this project will “continue to place Iowa at the forefront of renewable energy for the nation.”

“I think it’s significant for the state.”

Indeed. As the wind blows, Iowa grows.

Comments are closed.