Wind energy coming to Southwest Iowa

Source: By Kirt Manion, Hamburg Reporter • Posted: Monday, September 7, 2020

Wind energy is coming to Southwest Iowa, it’s just going to take a while to get here.

The Fremont County Board of Supervisors took action earlier this summer on an ordinance establishing rules for wind turbines, and, although said ordinance isn’t required for the development of wind power, establishing rules  makes it more attractive for wind energy companies because those companies come in knowing what is expected of them.

Attending that county board meeting earlier this summer was Gabe Klooster,, a Manager of Renewable Development at Invenergy LLC.

Klooster’s company is in the initial stages of a project to bring wind power to land in Fremont and Page County.  If everything works well, the wind project would be online and producing power, possibly by the end of 2022 with construction taking place possibly toward the end of 2021.

The construction and the maintenance of the wind power would have definite economic impact for Southwest Iowa. Klooster said construction would involve about 200 workers and, once completed, the wind power project would require about 10 full time employees for maintenance.

Over the course of 40 years, Klooster said the economic impact could measure as large as $60 million.

So why wind power?

First off, it makes sense.

Invenergy is developing this project because there is a lot of demand for power. Utilities are diversifying their power to include clean and renewable energy. In addition, innovation in the field have made the projects more cost effective.

According to the American Wind Energy Association, Iowa generated nearly 42 percent of its electricity from wind power in 2019, ranking first in the nation for wind energy as a share of total electricity generation and generating enough electricity to power the equivalent of more than 2.4 million average American homes. Iowa also ranks second in the nation for installed capacity with over 10,600 MW of wind online, representing $19 billion in capital investment. The state has attracted investment from major wind players.

Going from wind energy as an idea to wind energy as a reality is a fairly lengthy and also a measured and detailed process.

At the start of the process, companies seek agreements with local landowners in the form of long term leases. As that process plays out, investigation is done into geology of the land involved and environmental studies are done to find out what impacts a wind power project would have on the area.

Once the land is acquired and the studies are completed, the project goes through  a permitting process before construction can begin.

When the Southwest Iowa wind power project is completed, Klooster said it will likely generate enough power to service 100,000 average homes with electricity, but residential might not the primary use of the power.

The use of the power would be dependent on who is identified as the customer. Commercial and/or industrial customers could end up buying power from the project.

Completion of this project won’t necessarily lead to more wind power for the Fremont or Page county, but it could. Klooster said a phase two of the Southwest Iowa project is certainly possible.