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Wind Capacity Growing as Americans Embrace All the Energy Source Has to Offer

Wind Capacity Growing as Americans Embrace All the Energy Source Has to Offer

Date: 12/17/2007

Source: Stacia Cudd, National Association of Farm Broadcasting News Service

Audio with Roya Stanely, Director of Iowa's Office of Energy Independence (MP3 2.7 MB) Download Windows Media Player. Time: 00:02:50.

At the turn of the century, just 12 U.S. states had the capability of producing 25-hundred megawatts of wind energy. Today, statistics show more than 13-thousand megawatts of wind energy are produced in 33 states. Texas and California lead the nation — producing more than 35-hundred and 23-hundred megawatts respectively. Iowa is just behind those states — recently exceeding one-thousand megawatts of installed wind capacity.

Roya Stanley, the Director of Iowa's Office of Energy Independence, says the Iowa story of renewable energy is long. She notes the state enacted the Iowa Alternative Energy Production law nearly 25 years ago. The law requires the states two investor-owned utilities to contract for a combined total of 105 megawatts of their generation from renewable energy sources like wind. While the utilities initially fought that renewable portfolio standard, she notes the use of wind energy is really paying off for the utilities.

"There's a whole set of underpinnings to that, but let's just look at it from the perspective of using wind instead of purchasing natural gas, for example. And so, when the wind is blowing, and the utilities can generate electricity from the wind, then they may be able to back off on generating it from their natural gas plants. And of course, we all know that natural gas has gone up about three-fold in the last several years."

As a result, Stanley says utilities have really recognized the value of wind energy. She says Iowans in general are also embracing wind energy. She says it's easy to understand why — as wind energy doesn't just pay for the utilities — it pays for communities. According to Stanley, that's something Iowa farmers recognize as well.

"They recognize the value, not only to their own farming operations, but also to the community. Because areas that get wind farms have more money that they are able to use within their community to support their schools and their roads and their hospitals."

But wind energy doesn't just pay economically. Stanley says it pays environmentally, too. She says that's another reason it's a welcome addition to the state and why the future for wind energy is bright in Iowa.

"It really is, both from the perspective of seeing wind farms built in communities, from seeing community wind, and communities actually owning wind, but the other dimension was the manufacturing opportunity. And we've seen manufacturers locate here in Iowa, creating jobs for Iowans. So, it's a very, very bright future."

Currently, Stanley says four major wind manufacturers are located in Iowa.

For more information on wind energy in the U.S., visit the Wind Powering America Web site at www dot windpoweringamerica dot gov (www.windpoweringamerica.gov).

This information was last updated on December 18, 2007