A Mitchell County man is developing a plan for a $30 million, 20-megawatt wind farm owned by local investors a few miles north of Osage.
The project is tentatively being called the Cedar River Wind Farm and would have eight 2.5-megawatt wind turbines that would connect with an Alliant Energy 69,000-volt transmission line at the Kirkwood Avenue Substation at Osage.
The man said he wished to remain anonymous, but information about the project was confirmed by Mitchell County Economic Development Director Brenda Dryer, who is assisting in the project.
Farmers who have turbines located on their land could be part owners of the project, and if all goes as planned investment opportunities will become available to all local residents, she said.
“The exciting part about this project is the ability to keep the profits local,” Dryer said.
“Most of the wind farms in Iowa are not locally owned. The profits from the electricity they generate are sent out of town. The only money that is made locally is the money the farmer gets from leasing the land.”
Dryer said a wind farm near Ventura is owned by Florida Light and Power Co. and many others in the state are owned by Mid-American Energy. Cedar Valley Wind Farm would be one of two projects in the state that are locally owned.
With local and state incentives for wind farms, the possibility of a locally-owned operation is more viable than ever, but it will take a lot of support, both at the local and state levels, as well as the federal level, she said.
“Mitchell County is a wind-friendly county,” said Dryer. “There is a tax abatement ordinance in place for such a project.”
At the state and federal levels, legislators continue to offer renewable energy incentives through grants and other means.
“With today’s political atmosphere concerning renewable energy, the possibility of a feasible locally-owned wind farm is strong,” said Dryer. “We hope we can succeed with this exciting project.”
A series of several permits and studies has already been completed for the project. The plan must be presented to the Iowa Utilities Board.
“Obtaining green energy in Mitchell County is exciting,” said Mitchell County Supervisor Stan Walk. “Wind generation is making vast improvements in efficiency through design.”
“The Mitchell County Board of Supervisors has studied in the past the possibility of erecting a windmill out at (the Mitchell) County Care (Facility) with the hope of utilizing electricity as a primary heating source, thus reducing our need for 15,000 gallons of LP on an annual basis,” he added. “Our board welcomes all new technology and enterprises into the area.”
Signs of the project are already in the works. A 60-foot wind-tower monitor to measure average wind speeds is operating on Kirkwood Avenue a few miles south of the KIMT television transmitter tower.
By David Namanny
For The Globe Gazette
21 February 2007