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Wind Energy in Iowa

Updated on June 23, 2011

In the late 1990's, Iowa was one of the first states in the nation to adopt a Renewable Portfolio Standard mandating a certain percentage of overall energy production to come from renewable sources. This has led to a boom in the production of wind energy, among other alternative energy sources. Since then, Iowa's state government has continued to be very supportive of wind energy development in the state. Among other programs, Iowa offers generous tax credits for wind energy facilities both small and large.

Today, Iowa is the second largest wind producing state in the United States, with more than 2,000 turbines and an installed wind capacity of nearly 3000 MW as of January 2009. (1000 MW is enough energy to power approximately 250,000 homes.) Only Texas produce more energy from wind. Iowa ranks number 10 in the nation for wind energy potential, with a total potential estimated at 551 billion kWh per year. About 40% of Iowa's land area offers winds strong and steady enough to support wind turbines.

Wind energy has been a particular boom for Iowa's farmers, who have proven eager to lease their land to wind developers. Wind turbines combine very well with most forms of agriculture, allowing farmers to diversify their earning potential with multiple income streams from the same land. The Iowa Farm Bureau offers a free wind resource assessment program for its members. Iowa also offers a net metering program for farmers and homeowners interested in installing their own small wind systems.

An Iowa wind farm at sunset. Photo by 2neus.
An Iowa wind farm at sunset. Photo by 2neus.

Iowa is one of the only states in the United States where wind turbines, blades, and towers are manufactured and it currently leads the nation in attracting wind manufacturers. A recent report by the Sierra Club and the United Steelworkers Union found that wind energy has the potential to bring 5,193 new wind energy jobs to Iowa in the manufacturing sector alone.

Iowa is helping maintain its dominance in the wind sector through wind energy degree programs at local universities and community colleges, including Iowa Lakes Community College and the University of Iowa.

Iowa is also a leader in wind energy innovation. Iowa plans to build the world's first stored wind energy park, which will store wind energy underground for future use in a compressed air energy storage facility.


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    • Amanda Severn profile image

      Amanda Severn 8 years ago from UK

      It's good to know that alternative energies are doing so well in Iowa. There's so many innovations now, and it's reassuring to see more and more initiatives. Thanks for posting!