New wind power projects are still appearing across the region as Iowa utilities boost the amount of electricity they get from renewable sources.
Opposition to those projects is also growing. Lucas Nelsen, a policy program associate with the Center for Rural Affairs, says there are reasons for those objections.
“We’re seeing more opponents but that’s also because we’re seeing more wind development,” Nelsen says. “As wind continues to get cheaper, as it gets easier to build more efficient turbines and as the technologies become more efficient, we’re going to see wind in more places than we used to which means people that have never dealt with wind energy are going to experience it more often.”
Nelsen says people who oppose wind projects have to be careful that they don’t choke off all new development.
“The bigger issue is making sure the siting and the zoning are compatible with development and the desires of residents,” Nelsen says. “It’s a weird balance we have to strike. We have to be careful we’re not making zoning so strict that we can’t develop any wind energy anywhere. It’s a really valuable source of development for rural communities.”
Nelsen says developers who seek to build large wind farms could also do a better job at the front end.
“Go in early. Talk to the community. Make sure you’ve answered their questions and that you know what their concerns are,” Nelsen says. “When you know what their concerns are, you can begin trying to figure out, how can we address these? What are the solutions we can identify?”
Nelsen says wind power projects can bring tax revenue, new families and new business to rural areas.