Wind power in Iowa

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Hancock County Wind Energy Center in Hancock County, Iowa, with 148 Vestas V47-660kW wind turbines for a total nameplate capacity of 97.68 MW. Half of the wind turbines are southwest of Klemme and the other half are south-southeast of Duncan. NextEra Energy Resources owns the wind farm, which began operating in 2002.

Making up more than 37% of the state's generated electricity, Iowa is a leading U.S. state in wind power generation.[1] The development of wind power in Iowa began with a state law, enacted in 1983, requiring investor owned utilities purchase 105 MW of power from wind generation.[2] In 2016, over 20 billion kWh of electrical energy was generated by wind power,[3] representing 36.6% of in state electricity production.[4] As of February 2016, Iowa had over 6,974 megawatts (MW) of capacity.[5] [6][4] By 2020 the percentage of wind generated electricity in Iowa could reach 40 percent.[7]


Wind Power in Rural Iowa

In addition to federal programs, the state of Iowa encourages development of renewable electricity sources through a 1 cent per kilowatt hour tax credit.[8] Also, generation equipment and facilities receive property tax breaks, and generation equipment is exempt from sales tax.[9][10]

The development of wind power in Iowa began with the enactment in 1983 of a state law that required investor-owned utilities in the state to buy a total of 105 MW of power from wind generated electricity, one of the first renewable electricity portfolio standards. This provided assurance to those building wind power installations that there would be a market for the electricity they produced.[11]

Iowa has the highest density of wind power generation capacity.

In 2010 and in 2009, Iowa led the U.S. in the percentage of electrical power generated by wind, at 15.4 percent and 14.2 percent.[12] This was up from 7.7 percent in 2008, as there was a large increase in the installed capacity in 2008.[13] Some of the wind power generated electricity is sold to utility companies in nearby states, such as Wisconsin,[14] and Illinois.[15]

Wind farms are most prevalent in the north and west portion of Iowa. Wind maps show the winds in these areas to be stronger on average, making them better suited for the development of wind energy. Average wind speeds are not consistent from month to month. Wind maps show wind speeds are on average strongest from November through April, peaking in March. August is the month with the weakest average wind speeds.[16][17] On a daily cycle, there is a slight rise in average wind speeds in the afternoon, from 1 to 6 p.m.[18] Estimates by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) indicate Iowa has potentially 570,700 Megawatts of wind power using large turbines mounted on 80 meter towers.[19] Iowa ranks seventh in the country in terms of wind energy generation potential due to the strong average wind speeds in the midsection of the U.S.[11] The Iowa Environmental Mesonet distributes current weather and wind conditions from approximately 450 monitoring stations across Iowa, providing data for modelling and predicting wind power.[20]

The average capacity factor of Iowa wind farms has been estimated as 33.3% by a wind industry consultant.[21] For newer installations, higher capacity factors, approaching 40%, have been stated.[22] Production numbers for 2013, when wind capacity remained almost constant, showed a capacity factor over 34 percent.[23] Due to these better wind conditions, Iowa generated more electricity from wind power in 2013 than California, even though it had less wind power capacity installed.[24] And again in 2014 Iowa was number two in wind power generation behind only Texas.[25]

With the completion of some projects in 2016, only Texas has a higher amount of installed wind power capacity.[6] Several of the newer projects are the large 500 MW Highland Wind Energy Center and the O'Brien Wind Farm in O'Brien county, and the Ida Wind farm in Ida county. These were constructed in 2015 and 2016.[3][26]

According to the Iowa Office of Energy Independence, lack of transmission line capacity is beginning to restrict further growth of wind farms in the state.[27] A report from the NREL acknowledges that this is a major hurdle to increased wind power development in the U.S.[28] A high voltage DC line that would transmit power from near Sioux City to the Chicago area has been proposed.[29]

MidAmerican Energy, in 2015, completed five projects in Iowa totaling over 1,000 MW of capacity. The projects are in O'Brien, Marshall, Webster, Grundy, and Madison counties. 448 wind turbines manufactured by Siemens are to be constructed. At a cost of some 1.9 billion dollars, this will be Iowa's largest economic development project to date. The largest project, the Highland Wind Energy Center in O'Brien county, has 500 MW of generation capacity, making it the state's largest.[30][31][32]

In 2017, construction was started on the third wind farm of MidAmerican Energy's Wind XI project. The North English Wind farm in Poweshiek County will consist of 170 2.0 MW Vestas turbines. The project is scheduled to be completed at the end of 2018.[33] Work on two other wind farms in the project, the Beaver Creek wind farm and the Prairie wind farm, is expected to be finished the end of 2017.[34]

From October 23 to 24, 2017, wind power provided all the power consumed by MidAmerica Energy's Iowa customers. This was the first time wind generation reached this threshold, aided by sustained winds of 25 mph (40 km/h) with gusts to 40 mph (65 km/h).[35]

A new transmission line is being built to transmit some of the power from the Highland project to the Spencer and Iowa Great Lakes area. Additionally, power will be transmitted by an existing 345 kilovolt line running from south of Sioux City to Lakefield, Minnesota.[36]

Windpower industry[edit]

A number of companies involved in the windpower industry have office or manufacturing facilities in Iowa. Blades for wind turbines are manufactured in Newton by TPI Composites and in Fort Madison by Siemens. Towers are also manufactured in Newton by Trinity Structural Towers. Companies manufacturing other parts for wind turbines are located in Iowa as well.[37][38]

In addition to manufacturing, various companies support the development of wind power projects.[37] The wind power industry employs 6,000 to 7,000 people in Iowa.[39][38] Nearly $10 billion has been invested in Iowa's wind power projects and manufacturing facilities.[39]

In late September 2007, Siemens Power Generation opened its new wind turbine blade factory in Fort Madison, on the banks of the Mississippi River. The factory can produce more than 2000 blades annually.[40] A plant expansion in 2008 brought the facility up to nearly 600,000 square feet, up from 310,000. The facility manufactures 148-foot (45 m)-long, 12-ton blades for the company's 2.3-MW wind turbines installed in the United States.[41]

The Iowa Office of Energy Independence (OEI) is tasked with determining policy and setting goals towards renewable energy production. The office seeks to coordinate efforts between industry, community leaders, state and local government, and educational institutions to achieve energy policy goals.[37]

List of wind farms in Iowa[edit]

Wind power in Iowa is located in Iowa
Bvr C.
Bvr C.
Story County
Story County
Buena Vista
Buena Vista
Top of Iowa
Top of Iowa
Des Moines
Des Moines
Cedar Rapids
Cedar Rapids
Sioux City
Sioux City
Wind power projects in Iowa
  Green pog.svg Operating
  Orange pog.svg Under construction
Iowa Electricity Generation Sources[42]

The following lists some of the wind projects in Iowa.

Name Location
Intrepid between Schaller and Storm Lake, north of U.S. 20
Top Of Iowa near Joice, west of I-35
Story County I north of Colo
Story County II south of Humboldt, Story and Hardin counties [43]
Pomeroy between Pomeroy and Fonda, along Iowa 7
Endeavor near Lake-Park, Harris along Iowa 9
Century north of Blairsburg, along U.S. 69, west of I-35
Buena Vista Alta, Peterson, Truesdale area
Victory near Arcadia and Westside, U.S. 30[44]
Carroll northwest of Carroll, near Mt. Carmel & Breda
Hancock County Klemme
Hardin Hilltop north of Jefferson, 7 towers
Charles City west of Charles City
Walnut near Walnut (n.e. of Council Bluffs), mostly south of I-80
Whispering Willow Wind Farm Franklin County, between Hampton and Iowa Falls
Adair South of Adair, near I-80[45]
Barton near Kensett, east of I-35[46]
Crystal Lake between Buffalo Center and Crystal Lake, Hancock and Winnebago Counties
Pioneer Prairie Howard & Mitchell Counties
Crosswind Energy southeast of Ruthven, U.S. 18[47]
Lost Lakes West of Milford - Dickinson County
Iowa Lakes Superior near Superior, U.S. 71[48][49]
Iowa Lakes Lakota near Lakota, Iowa 9[48]
Laurel west of Laurel[50]
Rippey between Rippey & Grand Jct[50]
Vienna south of Gladbrook[50]
Beaver Creek Boone and Greene counties[51]
Prairie Mahaska County[51]

The Spirit, Endeavor, Buena Vista, Lost Lakes, and Crosswind Energy wind farms are all located upon the Coteau des Prairies, a slightly elevated area that results in the windiest locations in Minnesota and Iowa. Coteau des Prairies is sometimes referred to as Buffalo Ridge, which is actually a specific ridge within the area, mostly in Minnesota.

Power from the Iowa Lakes Superior and Iowa Lakes Lakota projects is used by ethanol fuel plants in their respective communities.[48][49]

Wind generation[edit]

Iowa Wind Generation (GWh, Million kWh)[2][52]
Year Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sept Oct Nov Dec Total % of Production
2015 1,811 1,578 1,653 1,609 1,607 911 799 1,004 1,330 1,699 2,039 1,833 17,878 31.3%
2016 1,737 1,894 1,859 2,343 1,334 1,309 983 789 1,556 1,796 2,050 2,422 20,072 36.9%
2017 1,645 1,984 2,238 2,083 1,811 1,598 1,052 886 1,310 2,135 2,045 2,029 20,816 36.9%
2018 2,428 1,949 2,153 2,044 1,575 1,634 1,148 1,269 1,553 1,817 1,913 2,203 21,686 33.8%
2019 2,312 1,905 2,554 2,870 9,642 44.5%

Colored background indicates wind was the largest source of generation that month.

Iowa Wind Generation in 2018
Iowa Wind Generation Capacity by Year[53]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "US wind energy generation reached 5.5% of the grid in 2016". REVE - Wind Energy and Electric Vehicle Review. 6 March 2017.
  2. ^ a b "Electricity Data Browser". U.S. Department of Energy, Energy Information Administration. Retrieved January 29, 2016.
  3. ^ a b "EIA Electric Power Monthly, February, 2017". PDF (report). U.S. Energy Information Administration, Department of Energy. March 24, 2017. Retrieved 2017-04-26.
  4. ^ a b "Iowa Wind Energy" (PDF). U.S. Wind Energy State Facts. American Wind Energy Association. Retrieved 27 December 2017.
  5. ^ "Installed Wind Capacity". Midamerican Energy. Midamerican Energy Company. Retrieved February 4, 2016.
  6. ^ a b "AWEA U.S. Wind Industry Fourth Quarter 2015 Market Report - Executive Summary" (PDF). Report. AWEA. January 30, 2016.
  7. ^ Branstad, Terry. "Iowa has the blueprint for energy independence". Governor's Wind Energy Coalition. Retrieved 3 September 2015.
  8. ^ Iowa renewable tax credits
  9. ^ National wind - Iowa wind data
  10. ^ Database of State Incentives for Renwables and Efficiency
  11. ^ a b Wiser, Mike. "Wind energy helping power Iowa economy". Retrieved 7 December 2011.
  12. ^ Energy Information Administration - Electric Power Monthly March 2011
  13. ^ Energy efficiency. Rethinking the energy system here in the U.S.
  14. ^ Crane Creek Wind Farm
  15. ^ Iberdrola in deal to sell power from Iowa wind farm
  16. ^ Iowa wind maps
  17. ^ Iowa monthly wind maps
  18. ^ Geography and Wind - Iowa Energy Center
  19. ^ Iowa policy project
  20. ^ Meteorology -IAWIND
  21. ^ Iowa Utilities Board
  22. ^ North American Windpower
  23. ^ [EIA electric power monthly, February 2013]
  24. ^ "EIA Electric Power Monthly, December 2013". PDF. U.S. Energy Information Administration, Department of Energy. February 21, 2010. Retrieved 2014-03-17.
  25. ^ Jackson, David (March 12, 2015). "Report: Wind power could be 35% of supply by 2050". USAToday. Retrieved March 12, 2015.
  26. ^ "MidAmerican Energy completes two major wind projects totaling more than 1.2 GW". WTWH Media, LLC. February 5, 2016. Retrieved 2017-04-26.
  27. ^ Chernova, Yuliya (October 19, 2009). "The Answer Is Blowing in…Iowa". The Wall Street Journal.
  28. ^ NREL Eastern Area Wind Energy Study
  29. ^ Transmission Line Proposed for Iowa
  30. ^ Iowa's Biggest Economic Project Ever,
  31. ^ Midamerican Energy announces construction of wind projects in Iowa - Iowa Energy Center
  32. ^ Buffet's $1 billion order shows wind power rivals coal energy, Business week
  33. ^ Work Starts on 340 MW Iowa Wind Farm
  34. ^ Sites Named for MidAmerican Wind Project
  35. ^ High winds bring milestone for Iowa, AP, Oct. 28, 2017. Carried in the Des Moines Register, Washington Times
  36. ^ Mid-American's busy 2014 construction year, Cherokee Chronicle Times
  37. ^ a b c Iowa Office of Energy Independence
  38. ^ a b "Iowa Wind Energy Fact Sheet" (PDF). PDF (report). Iowa Environmental Council. March 2016. Retrieved 2017-04-26.
  39. ^ a b Iowa Wind Energy Association
  40. ^ Siemens produces 5,000th blade at Fort Madison facility
  41. ^ Siemens' Fort Madison facility facts
  42. ^ "EIA - Electricity Data". Retrieved 6 March 2017.
  43. ^ Google buys power from Iowa wind farm
  44. ^ Victory I – Iowa
  45. ^ dead link
  46. ^ Iberdrola Renewables Supplies 50 Megawatts to We Energies from Barton Wind Power Project
  47. ^ Iowa wind farms supported by USDA Renewable Energy Program
  48. ^ a b c Iowa Lakes Electric Cooperative Lakota and Superior projects
  49. ^ a b Superior wind farm
  50. ^ a b c "RPMAccess Projects". RPMAccess. Retrieved 28 March 2013.
  51. ^ a b HIll, Joshua (13 February 2018). "MidAmerican Energy Completes Beaver Creek & Prairie Wind Farms In Iowa Totaling 338 Megawatts". CleanTechnica. Retrieved 14 February 2018.
  52. ^ "Electric Power Monthly". U.S. Department of Energy, Energy Information Administration. Retrieved February 24, 2017.
  53. ^ "Installed Wind Capacity". U.S. Department of Energy. Retrieved 2018-04-02.

External links[edit]