Guest Columnist

Industrial wind is costing Iowans

A worker waits to take off a lifting strap fixed around a turbine blade as it is secured to the hub at Alliant Energy's English Farms Wind Farm near Deep River, Iowa on Thursday, Jan. 10, 2019. Once completed, the farm with 69 wind turbines will produce around 170 megawatts of electricity, enough to power about 60,000 houses. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)
A worker waits to take off a lifting strap fixed around a turbine blade as it is secured to the hub at Alliant Energy's English Farms Wind Farm near Deep River, Iowa on Thursday, Jan. 10, 2019. Once completed, the farm with 69 wind turbines will produce around 170 megawatts of electricity, enough to power about 60,000 houses. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)

All across the Midwest thousands and thousands of acres of our world class farm ground is being taken out of production by industrial wind. We see the roads and the turbine pads but what is hard to see is the soil compaction that comes from construction. Many farmers have told me compacted soil may grow a crop but will not yield even after 12 years and counting.

The wind industry does not use marginal soils to build on, they use some of our very best soils with Corn Suitability Ratings of 95 or more. That lovely soil is our gold and it can take 500 years to make 1 inch of it. There are laws in Iowa such as Iowa Code 335.2 written to keep companies from taking our farmland for industrial pursuits, yet we have over a million of Iowa’s acres alone in industrial wind projects.

Turbines may not emit any CO2 to make energy, but there is a lot of CO2 made in the process of building and maintaining these thousands of power generators. Even one pound of concrete emits .09 lbs. of CO2 and wind turbines use 500-600 square yards of concrete per base. That is roughly 2.5 million tons of CO2 emitted for every turbine base. Between 2016-2017 the net emissions from Iowa’s power sector actually increased.

The American Wind Energy Association boasts that globally industrial wind turbines are avoiding 189 million metric tons of CO2 while the Carbon Project says that man-made CO2 emissions are 35-40 billion metric tons globally. Wind turbines in their 40 year career have only ever managed to “avoid” far less than 1% of the world’s man-made CO2. Do they count back the emissions made by manufacturing, building and maintaining these machines? I don’t know. It would be a good question to ask.

What is all this costing us here in Iowa? Most of us know that Alliant has requested to raise its rates 24.9 percent. MidAmerican Energy has admitted that they will receive $10 billion in tax credits/subsidies for building wind turbines, or roughly $4 million per turbine. Alliant was able to get the same deal. How much more will we have to pay to get “cheap” electricity? How much more environmental destruction will we tolerate for a scant amount of CO2 avoidance?

Home values plummet for the thousands and thousands of Iowans who are forced to live among the turbines, our world class farmland is being destroyed which is the base of our economy, our eagles and bats are being killed by wind turbines and we are paying dearly for it.

• Janna Swanson is president of the Coalition for Rural Property Rights, a board member of the National Wind Watch and a member of the Preservation of Rural Iowa Alliance.

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