Iowa ranks first in the nation in the percentage of wind-generated electricity on its power grid, and the state is fourth in total wind generating capacity. That's according to a new report released in early April by the American Wind Energy Association.
The report says 5.5% of the total electricity generated in Iowa last year came from wind. That's ahead of Minnesota at 4.6%, New Mexico at 3.9%, Oregon at 3.5% and South Dakota at 2.6%. However, Iowa has slipped from third to fourth place in total generation of electricity from wind energy, according to the report.
While Iowa added 341 megawatts of wind generating capacity in 2007, Minnesota added 405 megawatts to climb into third place. Minnesota now has 1,299 megawatts of generating capacity vs. Iowa's 1,271 megawatts from wind.
Iowa fourth in total generating capacity
Texas is the national leader in wind energy, with 4,446 megawatts of capacity. Texas added 1,618 megawatts in 2007. California ranks second with 2,439 megawatts, but added only 63 wind-generation megawatts last year.
Iowa Gov. Chet Culver talked about Iowa's wind energy progress at the first-ever Iowa Wind Energy Association Conference in Estherville. "Iowa leads the nation in producing its power from wind energy and is in position to become the renewable energy capital of the U.S.," says Culver. He points out that five major companies that manufacture wind-generators and related equipment - Acciona, Siemens, Clipper, Hendricks and TPI Composites - have located or expanded in Iowa.
MidAmerican Energy Company, based in Des Moines, ranks fifth among firms that generate electricity from wind energy, as MidAmerican has 933 megawatts. That figure includes 673 megawatts from wind farms in 11 Iowa counties. MidAmerican spokesman Allan Urlis says the utility company's total Iowa wind generation will rise by 458 megawatts this year. The resulting total by the end of 2008 will be 1,131 megawatts, will put MidAmerican in first place for wind generation among regulated electric utilities, says Urlis.
Germany is well-ahead of the U.S. in generating electricity from wind. Germany reported 20,622 megawatts of wind energy at the beginning of last year. The U.S. total at the end of 2007 was 16,800 megawatts.
Iowa sees big growth in wind energy
"In the past year, we have seen amazing growth in the field of renewable energy in Iowa," says Culver. "We have increased generation of electricity produced from renewable sources by nearly 10%, and increased megawatts from wind energy by almost 250%. 2007 was a stronger year than 2005 and 2006 combined, and 2008 will be even better."
At the Iowa wind energy conference, the governor spoke to more than 150 people attending, representing Iowa's wind energy companies, municipal utilities, wind farm developers, major utility firms, educational organizations and government institutions. This year's conference was designed to look at the future of the wind energy industry in Iowa.
While Iowa is currently the fourth highest producer of wind energy in the country, more wind generation farms are being built in the state. Recent studies have projected that within a 600 mile radius of Iowa, more than $20 billion dollars in wind projects will be constructed over the next seven years.
Wind energy is helping Iowa's economy
Culver points out the economic impact of wind energy. "Iowa is now home to five wind generation manufacturers who have recently decided to locate or expand here – Acciona, Siemens, Clipper, Hendricks, and TPI," he notes. "Communities across Iowa that have experienced real economic challenges, like Keokuk, Fort Madison and Newton, have recently seen a new rebirth by tapping into our booming wind industry. Each of these cities is in the process of adding hundreds of new wind-generation manufacturing jobs."
Last year, the Culver/Judge Administration took steps to keep Iowa a leader wind energy, and all other forms of renewable energy, through the creation of the Office of Energy Independence and the Iowa Power Fund, a $100 million research and development fund. In the two months since applications were accepted for the Iowa Power Fund, more than 100 applications have been received representing nearly $190 million in investment.
"We are truly beginning the process of making our entire state a laboratory, so we remain on the cutting edge in all forms of renewable energy," says Culver. "We hope to build the 'Silicon Valley of the Midwest' by developing the next generation of renewable energy and technology – and it starts here, with wind."