Iowa leads nation in percentage of electricity from wind
Wind farm development also brings $11.8 billion to Iowa's economy
George C. Ford
Iowa leads the nation in the percentage of electricity supplied by wind energy.
More than 31 percent of in-state electricity was generated from wind energy last year, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. That marks the first time wind has supplied a state with more than 30 percent of its electricity.
“Iowa is blessed with world-class wind resources,” said Tom Kiernan, CEO of the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) in a news release. “U.S. workers are building some of the most productive wind turbines in the world. American wind power is well on its way to supplying 20 percent of U.S. electricity by 2030.”
Wind farm development has attracted $11.8 billion to Iowa’s economy, according to data released by AWEA, which has its headquarters in Washington. Wind is expected to supply 40 percent of Iowa’s in-state generation within the next five years — enough electricity for 6.3 million average American homes.
Wind power supports more than 6,000 jobs in Iowa, including workers at 13 factories manufacturing wind turbine parts and materials, according to AWEA.
Farmers and rural landowners benefit from growing wind energy, as wind developers pay them $17.1 million annually for the use of their land to erect and maintain wind turbines, according to AWEA.
MidAmerican Energy plans to begin construction in the spring on wind farms in Ida Grove and O’Brien County. Plans call for approximately 134 turbines and up to 301 megawatts of generation capacity at the Ida Grove wind farm, and approximately 104 turbines and 250 megawatts of additional generation capacity at the new O’Brien wind farm.
By 2017, MidAmerican Energy expects wind to generate an amount equal to 57 percent of its total retail electricity load.
The increasing use of wind generation and other sources of renewable energy is translating into lower monthly utility bills. Electricity rates across the nation have remained 5.5 percent lower than they were in 2009, according to the Business Council for Sustainable Energy and Bloomberg New Energy Finance’s recently released fourth annual Sustainable Energy in America Factbook.
At 7.1 cents per kilowatt-hour, the retail price of electricity for the industrial sector in the United States is lower than in other major economies, such as Germany, China and India, according to the Bloomberg report.
For the first time in 2015, Texas, Maine and Vermont generated 10 percent or more of their electricity from wind.