Articles filed under General from Iowa
At Story Wind's construction site in the northeastern corner of the county, weather conditions fit the name earlier this week as stiff March winds blew across the landscape.
About 25 to 40 trucks are cruising Iowa's roads every day with oversized trailers hauling huge wind turbine towers, extraordinarily long blades and other equipment en route to wind energy farms under construction here and in other states, according to the Iowa Department of Transportation. ..."you get tower sections that are fourteen- and fifteen-feet wide and it becomes more difficult during the construction season to use the interstates."
Fayette County may be on the road to becoming the next gold mine for wind energy in Iowa. The county is being looked at by two different companies for large wind farms, one by Oelwein and another in the northwestern corner. Both projects are considered to be in the preliminary phases. "It'll certainly change the landscape," said Chuck Gray, the clerk for Bethel Township, where one of the projects is located.
Tower by 260-foot tower, blade by 125-foot blade, a manmade forest of wind turbines is rising in a roughly 48-square-mile area between Zearing and Colo. The 100-tower wind farm will eventually generate 150 megawatts of electricity, to be fed into the Mid-Iowa power grid, according to Florida Power and Light spokesman Anthony Pedroni. ..."We'll work our way south, from Zearing toward Colo, at the rate of 10 to 14 turbines a week for the next six to seven weeks," Pedroni said.
Everything is bigger about wind energy these days. The towers are taller, and the rotating turbines have greater diameter. Leases to landowners are becoming more lucrative. But as "big wind" owned by utilities and merchant generators gets bigger, voices for "little wind" - people who want to build backyard generators or farmers unhappy about the effects of towers - are beginning to make themselves heard. ..."If you're a farmer and used to a quiet environment, a wind turbine changes everything," said Heide ...At a meeting last week in Malcom, Heide warned landowners about broken tiles, damaged roads and fences during turbine construction, and noise and shadows from rotating turbines.
Smith said that Horizon does not yet have a contract with any major provider to purchase the electricity produced. "We hope to have a contract soon, but if we don't by next spring, we will be a merchant power facility, selling our energy to a daily marker," said Smith. "This is a new concept for wind energy, but we expect it will grow and become common in the future as the United States reduces its dependence on foreign oil." The Iowa Utilities Board granted a regulatory waiver in February to Horizon Wind Energy to create its Pioneer Prairie Wind Farm in Howard and Mitchell counties.
The Carroll City Council Monday voted 5 to 1 to ban wind-turbine development in the 2-mile area around the city. MidAmerican Energy has planned a 100-turbine wind project that will stretch from Carroll to Breda. It is expected to be complete by the end of the year and seven of the turbines in the initial plan fell within the 2-mile area to the northwest of Carroll where the city has authority. The council's action runs counter to a Planning & Zoning recommendation for approval of the plan.
MidAmerican Energy is developing a 100-turbine wind-power project in Carroll County that will stretch from just inside Carroll's two-mile limit to Breda. The $300 million turbine project started in recent days with the construction of access roads and other initial work, Tom Budler, Mid-American's general manager for wind power, said in an interview with the Daily Times Herald. MidAmerican plans to move swiftly on the project. "It will absolutely be on the line by the end of 2008," Budler said. ...Budler and other MidAmerican officials were in Carroll Monday for a city council meeting to discuss a proposed ordinance that would affect seven of the 100 turbines. Those seven would be in the jurisdiction of the city, and officials want more information about height, setbacks and possible impact on other development before any ordinance goes into effect.
Hancock and Winnebago counties have seen increased traffic since last December as crews and trucks bearing heavy equipment began arriving in Crystal Lake for the start of a new Florida Light and Power (FPL) 100-turbine wind farm. Now, almost six months later the fruit of their labor is obvious to everyone. Although wind turbine components have been arriving by truck the last few months, May 9th was the first day crews began erecting the towers. Foundation work began in December and was finished earlier this spring.
A "green" project may be popping up out of the green fields of northeastern Pottawattamie County this summer. MidAmerican Energy is looking at the area as a site to build 64 wind turbines, a project that county officials said could be worth more than $120 million and generate about 96 megawatts of electricity. The Pottawattamie County Board of Supervisors will schedule a public hearing on tax incentives for the project in the next few weeks. ...The ordinance that will go before the County Board calls for MidAmerican to pay no property taxes on the equipment for the first year, then 5 percent of the assessed value in the second year. The tax amount would increase by 5 percentage points each subsequent year until it reaches 30 percent, which will be the maximum amount.
Here's another sign that wind energy is coming of age: Wind law is now piling up in court precedents and is being taught at law school. ...Hamilton's wind law course covers the gamut of the legal nitty-gritty about wind energy, including easements and leases, property issues, land-use regulations, utility regulation, metering and financing, and state and federal tax, energy and environmental policies. Hamilton's class is one of three in the United States. The University of Texas at Austin has a wind law class and so does the University of Oregon in Eugene. "With turbine farms going up all over Iowa, it's the next logical step,"
Several Fayette County landowners are considering establishing a bloc of land suitable for generating wind energy. "We'd like to get between 8,000 and 10,000 acres in a single bloc and offer it to an energy company," said David Burrack of rural Arlington, coordinator of the effort. Burrack and several associates held a meeting Wednesday night at Starmont High School attended by more than 50 area landowners. "Right now we are just trying to see if enough landowners are interested," he said, adding that only 20 percent of proposed wind farms ever get built. Burrack said he believes a corridor covering about 60 square miles between Arlington and Maynard would be favorable for the generation of wind energy.
These roadways, also known as "service roads," are usually used by farmers who need to get from one end of their property to another, and are nowhere near strong enough to handle what MidAmerican has in store for them. Because the prospective sites for these wind turbines can be a considerable distance from highways and county roads, Level B roadways will need to be substantially beefed up to handle trucks carrying wind turbine parts weighing several dozen tons. The roadways would have to be widened to 33 feet, as well. ..."They've got equipment five times the legal load limit," he said. "On B level roads, there's not enough rock. It'll be adding rocks to dirt roads."
Iowans who try to go "green" with ethanol or wind power will unwittingly contribute to greenhouse-gas emissions, say energy officials. That's because the Iowa companies that make ethanol and wind-turbine blades are largely powered by coal, a chief source of carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping gases. Officials with Alliant Energy, which has proposed a new coal-fired plant in Marshalltown, told the Iowa Utilities Board recently that if Iowans want renewable energy, they will need more electricity from coal plants. That left environmentalists who are fighting the plant shaking their heads.
While the wind hasn't stopped blowing across the prairies of southwest Minnesota and northwest Iowa, the 40-turbine Endeavor Wind Farm near Harris, Iowa, hasn't been able to fully capitalize on the gusts for several months now. Officials with the wind farm, developed by Clipper Wind, discovered late last summer there was a timing issue in the secondary stage of the power train. "It was ... what we would call a start-up issue - supplier related," said Mary McCann-Gates, director of global communications for Clipper Wind's Carpinteria, Calif., office. "In a nutshell, some of the power trains that we made early on had a timing issue on some of the gears." ...The Endeavor Wind Farm at Harris was purchased by Florida Power & Light in August 2007. Because of the repairs Clipper Wind must make, the acquisition process has not yet been completed.
Cass County residents might start seeing large trucks passing through the area as work on MidAmerican owned wind turbines begins in the Cass and Adair County areas. Cass County Engineer Charles Marker told the Cass County Supervisors on Thursday that six MidAmerican owned turbines would be going up in Cass County, and 76 in Adair County. ...The supervisors discussed whether or not the county roads would be able to handle the heavy loads, and Marker said he thought most Cass County roads would be fine. "But we will have to look at each bridge along the route," he said, after exact routes were established.
Iowa's booming wind-energy industry hasn't blown into the eastern part of the state, especially Scott County. Geography and economics make the eastern part of the state less attractive to energy producers that have made Iowa the fourth in the nation in wind energy production behind Texas, California and Minnesota. Wind speeds are higher in the northwest and north-central parts of the state than in the eastern area. Costs of production and transmission must be weighed against what producers can bill customers, too. "You will notice the wind speeds in the northwest part of the state are 1-2 mph faster than in the eastern part of the state," said Bill Haman, project manager for the Iowa Energy Center. "That is a huge difference."
The plan calls for a wind farm that will generate 150 mega watts of energy. To achieve that goal 100 turbines, each generating 1.5 megawatts of power, will be erected in several different locations in Hancock County. All the turbines will be connected underground through a grid system with power lines running from turbine to turbine. ...FPL is still waiting for approval from the Iowa Utilities Board (IUB) for the transmission lines. The company plans to install transmission lines to bring power from the Crystal Lake wind farm to the Lime Creek Power Station, which is located south of Manly. “We have easement agreements with all the land owners needed for the transmission lines. Three or four have expressed concerns, but these are not individuals that the transmission lines cross their property,” Stengel said.
The project's official name is "Capacity Expansion by 2020," or "CapX2020" for short. It is being driven by an alliance of 11 different utility companies throughout the region, which covers all of Minnesota as well as parts of North Dakota, South Dakota, Iowa and Wisconsin. The power line planned for this area is one of three 345 kV lines proposed at different areas of the state as part of the the CapX2020 project. The project also includes construction of one 230 kV line between Bemidji and Grand Rapids. A public hearing for residents of this area is scheduled for next Tuesday, in Cannon Falls. It is one of many meetings still to come during the CapX2020 planning process. ...Rate payers from all area power utility companies will see an increase in their bills as a result of the CapX2020 construction, he added. Though Fordice could not put a specific amount on how much the increase to utility bills will be - probably $1.50 to $2 a month - the project itself is going to cost $1.4 billion, which will be divided among all 11 utility companies.
Horizon Wind Energy's expansion efforts have generated a new need: maintenance of the turbines and the system. LeRoy's the likely site of a facility for an operations building that's planned by the wind energy company. "It's not concrete yet, but it's very likely," said Horizon's operations manager Kevin Clark. "One way or another, we'll be building an operations building next year, and right now, it's almost certain it will be in LeRoy." ...The 200-megawatt site being built next year, called Pioneer Prairie, will consist of 122 turbines, with plans to possibly add 60 more turbines in 2009. The wind farm will run west from LeRoy to Stacyville, Iowa.