The Midwest holds the most renewable energy producers in nation with Iowa among the leaders in wind energy production, and the wind industry has created approximately 7,000 jobs for Iowans. The state’s wind power capacity is 4,322 megawatts, which means it generates 23 percent of all the power generated in the state. With over 1100 working turbines spread over 47 wind farms, Iowa is taking wind energy by storm.
Iowa’s success is in part due to tax credit programs, allowing wind farmers to implement wind energy for a lower cost. In June 2005, Iowa executed two production tax credit programs for all eligible wind producers to implement wind energy systems. With this, Iowa jumped to second in the nation, producing 23 percent of all power by wind energy systems.
Though Iowa is still utilizing its ability to produce high wind power capacity, this ability may suffer at the end of the year. Wind power equipment manufacturers have been hurting because a key tax credit for wind farm developers will expire December 31 of this year. The Production Tax Credit’s expiration date has loomed int the past, but has been renewed repeatedly. The tax credit has been kept on a short expiration cycle.
“It’s forced a lot of people (wind developers) to look outside the United States,” Peter Gray, a spokesman for ACCIONA North America in West Branch, told The Gazette, which is now moving its turbine future to a project in Canada.
Harold Prior is the executive director of the Iowa Wind Energy Association and is hopeful for Iowa’s wind industry future. He said there’s a large untapped marketplace in “distributed wind,” which is when smaller turbines are erected on or near the site where the power will be used, in such areas as colleges or businesses. This “distributed wind” idea will become more appealing as the price to keep wind energy alive will increase.
Sources: Iowa Wind Facts, National Wind
Iowa’s renewable energy boom headed for a bust, The Gazette