20% of Iowa?s electricity from wind turbines

Iowa currently has more than 2,500 wind turbines creating over 4,000 megawatts of electricity. Iowa Wind Energy Association executive director Harold Prior says most Iowans welcome the continued expansion of the industry.

“The most recent poll…indicates approximately 85 percent of Iowans are extremely supportive of the industry and understand its major contribution is job creation in a very weak economy,” Prior said. “This is one of the few sectors of the economy that’s booming.”

More wind turbine farms are under construction around the state – including 260 turbines by MidAmerican Energy in southwest Iowa’s Cass County. Prior says an additional 1,000 megawatts of wind energy will be online within 12 to 18 months.

One of the bigger challenges facing Iowa’s wind industry involves transmitting electricity outside the state, according to Prior. “Many of those issues are being resolved. There are several major transmission projects underway now,” Prior said. He praised a ruling this week from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

“FERC (issued) a favorable ruling in terms of how the cost allocation for transmission assets is going to be handled – so it’s spread over the entire customer base and not just for the new generators that come online,” Prior said. He says the extension by Congress of a production tax credit given to builders of wind projects is also critical to the industry’s future.