OUR OPINION: Power of wind blows across state of Iowa

Source: By Editorial Board, Sioux City Journal • Posted: Tuesday, September 8, 2015

According to the American Wind Energy Association, in 2014 Iowa produced a larger percentage of its energy from wind (28.5 percent) than any state in the nation and ranked second, only to Texas, in the amount of wind energy produced (16.3 megawatt hours) and the number of jobs related to the wind energy industry (more than 6,000). The state ranked behind only Texas and California for installed wind capacity (more than 5,700 megawatts).

Clearly, a strong wind blows across our state.

We revisit the issue of wind energy in this space because Iowa’s wind numbers soon will grow still larger as a result of MidAmerican Energy Co. plans, recently approved by the Iowa Utilities Board, to invest another $900 million next year in the construction of new wind farms in Ida and O’Brien counties. Those plans will add 552 megawatts of wind generation capacity in the state.

With the addition of the two new wind farms, MidAmerican’s wind assets in Iowa will reach some 2,000 turbines, more than 4,000 megawatts of wind generation capacity and a total investment of approximately $6.7 billion.

As we have said before, the wind energy industry is, when viewed from any perspective, a winner for Iowa. In addition to creating jobs, wind energy helps lower electric rates for utility customers, puts more money in the pockets of farmers and other rural landowners in the form of lease payments, creates export potential and increases property tax revenue.

Again today, we applaud MidAmerican for its investments in the economic future of our state, its commitment to our environment through support of clean, renewable energy and its contributions to the goal of energy independence for our nation.

Without question, the renewable fuels industry is key to the future of Iowa (the state also ranks first in the nation for production of ethanol and second for production of biodiesel), but the industry is good for the long-term economic, strategic and security interests of America, too.

As the importance of renewable energy to the nation grows, Iowa’s importance as an energy leader grows. Our state sits on no deposits of oil, natural gas or coal, but due to growth in the areas of wind and biofuels, Iowa is positioned well as a major player in the energy game nonetheless.

Because wind is in inexhaustible supply and, according to the Iowa Wind Energy Association, some 75 percent of Iowa is considered suitable for wind-energy development with an estimated total resource of 570,000 megawatts of electricity, we believe we have only scratched the surface of the potential for the wind industry here.

In our view, that’s something all of us who live and work in this state should be excited about.

We look forward to what we hope is continued growth in the wind industry, and the biofuels industry, and resulting benefits for not simply Iowa, but the country as a whole.