Iowa Reaches Milestone on Wind-Energy Production

Sixty-four percent of Iowa’s energy production now comes from wind – a new record for the state, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. Green-energy advocates call it a big step along the road to fossil-fuel independence.

Iowa has been a wind-energy leader for decades. The Iowa Environmental Council (IEC) has a goal of becoming fossil-fuel independent by 2035. The energy mix in Iowa has shifted from being dominated by coal and natural gas to being dominated by wind, with a much smaller fraction of coal and natural gas.

The IEC contends that wind is the least expensive source of energy generation, even without considering tax credits or subsidies. Wind is dramatically lower in cost compared to coal, especially when accounting for factors such as human health and crop damage from fossil fuel-based energy production.

Large utility companies such as MidAmerican Energy have entered the renewable-energy marketplace but have not moved completely away from fossil-fuel backups.

Alternative-energy producers have faced challenges in Iowa because the land has traditionally been valuable for agriculture production. To install wind turbines, the land must have a low corn suitability ratio, which means the acreage will be more valuable to wind farmers than it is to corn farmers.

Public sentiment in the state is finally starting to change as people see the value of clean energy. Renewable energy provides benefits in rural areas and to customers across the state. Iowa has been a pioneer in renewable energy, leading the way through political changes for decades.

In addition to wind energy, Iowa will focus on solar-energy production as costs continue to decline. The state will rely on a mix of alternative energy sources to achieve fossil-fuel independence.

Alan Caldwell