Library filed under General from Iowa
When Al Brueggeman agreed to allow two wind turbines on his high ground, it was with the promise of tax relief from a $207 million wind farm that now juts from the landscape in far northwest Iowa. But six years after 60 turbines began whirring, the farmer learned Osceola County leaders have been discretely plotting to use that money elsewhere for the next 20 years.
Acciona is taking legal action to claim the $110,000 that the city is refusing to pay because it says Acciona failed to live up to promises about job creation.
The Plan & Zoning Commission voted unanimously Thursday, with the exception of two absent members, against a recommendation to the Board of Adjustment of approval for a special use permit for placing two 445 ft. wind turbines in city limits. ...Stephen Troskey, city planner, said he was worried about potential buyers in that area. "I think there is a well documented decrease in value for those areas around," Troskey said. "I think that's too big of a risk to take with this area of town and such a large structure."
"Government subsidies to new wind farms have only made the industry less focused on reducing cost. In turn, the industry produces a product that isn't as efficient or cheap as it might be if we focused less on working the political system and more on research and development."
School officials say it broke down two years ago. After some initial repairs, the turbine completely halted operation about 18 months ago. "When you look at big picture, it's cost us more than it's earned us."
The company continues working with county officials and landowners and has secured development and interconnection rights for the wind farm sites, MidAmerican officials said. Construction is expected to begin in September 2013, and all projects are planned for completion prior to the end of 2015.
Bill Haman is from the Iowa Energy Center, an organization that provides information and tools for energy consumers. He said his office has heard from many consumers with the same problem. "There are cases out there where nothing was delivered, but substantial, sometimes over a $100,000 of down payment were made up front," said Haman.
These are unstable times for wind energy plants. Acciona in West Branch is laying off 40 workers, just months after White House officials had visited the plant to push for wind energy tax credits. Even though the credit has been extended a year, there's still uncertainty in the workforce.
"U.S. wind development declined sharply over the past year for reasons beyond our control," ACCIONA Windpower said. "The reduction in our work force is necessary to meet the current volume of production while we work to complete new turbine supply agreements."
Monday marked the second major round of layoffs at the West Branch facility in its six-year history. In 2009, Acciona laid off 58 employees, which was a third of its West Branch workforce. At the time, company officials called it a "short-term issue" due to the sluggish economy, but most or all of those positions never came back.
Siemens, a German conglomerate, announced Tuesday it is laying off 146 employees at its wind turbine nacelle plant in Hutchinson, leaving just 152 employees there. All told, 615 employees in Siemens' wind power business will lose their jobs. Siemens said the change would primarily affect employees in Iowa, Kansas and Florida.
The biggest cuts will come in Fort Madison, where 407 workers at a wind turbine blade factory will be out of work. About 220 workers there will be retained. The company blamed difficult market conditions due to lack of congressional action on a wind energy tax credit as well as increased use of natural gas-fired power plants and an overall sluggish economy.
Most of Clipper's employees - and layoffs - are believed to be in Cedar Rapids, where the company manufactures its Liberty wind turbines. The company declined to provide numbers specific to each of its locations. ...Layoffs have mounted in the wind industry even though there are still four months to go before the credit expires.
The company removed one turbine from the property and Stineman said he believed it was installed near Gladbrook. However, the company dissolved before the second turbine could be dismantled and the crane company later assumed ownership.
According to ACCIONA, the 6 MW Pioneer Grove wind farm will feature two 3 MW AW3000 wind turbines. The erection of the first 100-meter concrete tower, which includes five sections, is expected by mid-October.
In the fall of 2010, Horizon installed several wind measuring towers to test two possible locations for wind farms in Plymouth County. ...In January EDP announced that the project has been put on hold due to poor market conditions. "It's not a priority project at this point."
"The structure would be quite noticeable," he said. "There needs to be a public vetting of whether it's appropriate to have that as an accessory use." Rather than have the Board of Adjustment overturn his decision, Boothroy said the "proper thing to do" would be changing the code, if that is what the public wants.
The decision means MidAmerican can continue its ongoing expansion approved by regulators in 2009, which allowed the firm to add 1001 megawatts and allow the company to pass certain costs to customers in a rate increase ...It also means that MidAmerican does not have to buy wind power from NextEra, which the Florida company had proposed as an alternative.
Strottman bought two turbines from Earth Linked two years ago to drastically cut his monthly $1,700 electric bill. The project cost $410,000. Strottman received $123,000 in government funds and he got a loan for the balance. The farmer makes $3,700 monthly payments on the machines that currently sit idle.
Horizon Wind Energy, the company that installed several test towers for two potential wind farms in Plymouth County has "put the project on hold," according to Roby Roberts, a spokesman for EDP Renewables, which owns Horizon. "Demand for energy is way down, due to the recession," Roberts said.