Concerns about wind generator towers and access roads interfering with farming doesn’t seem to be stopping farmers in Iowa from leasing their land to host wind generators.
As of today, economic totals show that more than 3,000 Iowa jobs with a combined payroll around $70 million a year and landowners, as of this year, earning roughly $12.6 million a year in lease payments hosting turbines on their land, according to data from the American Wind Energy Association and reported by the Iowa Farmer Today.
There are 2,800 wind turbines in Iowa that can produce 4,375 megawatts at maximum capacity. This capacity is second in the nation to Texas, which reportedly is producing 10,000 megawatts. California only produces 3,100 megawatts.
Iowa government and wind energy industry goals are reported to be 20,000 megawatts of production by 2030.
“The story in Iowa can be held up as a great case study on how to do it right,” Elizabeth Salerno, director of data and analysis for the AWEA, told Mike Wiser reporting for Iowa Farmer Today.
She was further quoted as saying, “Iowa started early, and it has great wind resources. It has available land, and farmers see having a turbine as just having a different type of crop. Fourth, Iowa has taken a lead in attracting companies that manufacture components.”
There is a scientific explanation for why Iowa can be a leader in wind energy. It is because those who chart wind have recognized a north-south wind tunnel that makes the western half of the U.S. a better choice for wind generation. The wind tunnel is over most of Iowa.
“At 262 feet above the ground, wind speeds in this tunnel average about 20.1 miles per hour. In much of the rest of the country, wind speeds at the same elevation run at 8.7 mph or less. As a result, Iowa is known as the seventh-windiest state in the country,” Wisner wrote. The windiest part of the state is the north to northwest.
In 1983, Iowa pieced together a Renewable Electricity Portfolio Standard that was written to force utility companies to purchase a percentage of power from renewable-energy resources, and that was the leverage to establish a market for wind energy and put Iowa ahead of other states, even though it was not fully implemented, with amendments, until 2003 following settlements of court cases.