Two representatives of a California firm which last May began investigating the possibility of a local wind farm for electrical generation were in Guthrie County last week to meet with zoning administrator Barry Stetzel who said he was impressed by the prospects.
Stetzel was at a proposed site in southwestern Guthrie County Wednesday with the development project manager and permitting manger of Clipper Windpower Inc. The zoning administrator said the site, which he would not specifically identify, would have 55 windchargers in Guthrie County and 25 in Audubon County.
Besides meeting with Stetzel about permitting and zoning for the windchargers and substation sites, the Clipper Windpower reps also met with county engineer Kris Katzmann about use of county right-of-way for underground electrical lines as none will be constructed above ground.
Preliminary studies have shown the county has enough wind to be a viable site. A test anemometer, 300 feet off the ground, is still collecting wind readings at a rural Adair farm.
If constructed, the proposed windpark would require a $170.5 million investment by Clipper Windpower Inc.
Stetzel said each Liberty Wind Turbine, manufactured by Clipper Windpower at its Cedar Rapids plant, would stand 429 feet in the air to the top of its blades. The windchargers are activated with a 5 m.p.h. wind and they shut down at wind speeds in excess of 35 m.p.h.
Because they must be positioned on the crests of hills, Stetzel estimated the turbines would take up about one-half acre of land and be approximately one-half mile apart.
Each turbine would be capable of producing 2.5 megawatts of electricity and the entire windpark (80) turbines could generate 200 megawatts.
“Most turbines in Iowa are 1 to 1.5 megawatts. These are 2.5 each because they have four generators on them instead of one,” Stetzel explained.
To keep the turbines operating at full capacity, Clipper Windpower said it would plan to keep a huge crane on site to perform maintenance.
The Clipper Windpower representatives told Stetzel Iowa currently is third in wind energy production behind California and Texas. Iowa is expected to overtake Texas for the No. 2 spot in the near future.
Stetzel called his dialog with Clipper Windpower “very encouraging” and said he expects the company to finalize its plans by mid to late summer.
Clipper Windpower began obtaining windpark easement agreements from landowners in southwest Guthrie County early last fall. If the windpark comes to fruition, affected landowners eventually would receive royalties. The leases reportedly are for 35 years. The turbines have a 30 year life span.
Construction of the windpark would benefit not only the county, but the Adair-Casey school district as well.
Because of an energy assessment ordinance passed by the board of supervisors last summer, the wind turbines will be assessed locally and not by the state. Stetzel, who also is the county assessor, said they would be taxed on a graduating scale from 0 to 30 percent of net acquisition cost the first seven years and then at 30 percent each year after that. He figured in the seventh year the taxable value of the turbines would be $51,150,000. Tax revenue to the county and Adair-Casey school district would be $1,250,000 annually starting in 2014.
If constructed, the windpark in Grant and Bear Grove Townships would be the first in Iowa south of Highway 30.
Single turbines are highly visible in northern Adair County along Interstate-80 . The first was constructed at Owner Revolutions (formerly Schafer Systems) at Adair and the second by Stuart Municipal Utilities in 2005.
Information from Clipper Windpower states a 200 megawatt windpark over 30 years will generate the same amount of electricity as 156 billion cubic feet of natural gas, over 28 million barrels of crude oil, or more than 7 million tons of coal.
“That’s why I’m enthused about working with them,” added Stetzel. “Wind certainly is a great alternative energy source. And, it’s plentiful.”
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