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Iowa leads U.S. in wind power

By Staff | Sep 17, 2012

By LARRY KERSHNER

kersh@farm-news.com

SPENCER – An upbeat Harold Prior walked about Central Park on the Clay County Fairgrounds on Sunday and was enthused over the interest visitors to the Clay County Fair were showing to the displays of Iowa Wind Energy?Day.

2012, he said, is the first year that the fair is open to one-day sponsorships, and Iowa Energy Day was the first of those to be held.

“We’re thrilled,”?Prior said, “we have 11 co-sponsors here. It’s been a real good experience.”

Prior is the executive director of the Iowa Wind Energy Association, based in Milford.

He said Iowa is a national leader in developing wind energy. During the summer of 2011, it was the first state to reach 20 percent of its electric generation from wind.

That number has since dropped to 18 percent, he said.

Nevertheless, he said, “Iowa leads the nation in number of wind-related jobs, with 50 percent of all U.S. businesses related to wind, whether manufacturing, transportation, transmission, is here in Iowa.”

In addition, MidAmerican Energy, leads the U.S. among rated-utilities with 30 percent of its total generation from wind.

And, he said, the industry still has bright futures.

He said the earliest wind turbines, of 65 kilowatt to 95 kw size, which have been working for decades in the American Southwest, are being refurbished and retooled and put back into production in the distributed wind market.

“There’s tremendous interest among schools, small manufacturers and farms” for these smaller turbines.

He said IWEA is lobbying Iowa lawmakers to continue the expired federal tax credits for commercial-scale wind development, since the industry provides 6,000 to 7,000 jobs related to the industry.

However, tax credits for installing smaller systems, 100 kw or smaller, are still in effect until 2016.

According to Prior:

n A recent survey by Public Opinion Strategies, said 85 percent of Iowans view wind energy favorably.

n 75 percent of Iowa is suitable for wind energy development with an estimated total resource of 570,000 megawatts.

n There are 2,893 utility scale turbines in operation in Iowa.

n Iowa landowners with wind turbines on their land receive an estimated $14.46 million annually in lease payments.

n Wind turbine property can be assessed at a maximum of 30 percent of acquisition and construction costs.

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