What is the latest renewable energy project about to get underway in Mitchell County?
The answer (my friend) is blowin’ In the wind.
A local man who wishes to remain anonymous at this time is currently developing a 20-megawatt wind farm that will be located just a few miles north of Osage.
The project, already a year and a half in the making, is tentatively being called the “Cedar River Wind Farm.” The $30 million operation would consist of eight 2.5-megawatt wind turbines which would interconnect with an Alliant Energy 69,000-volt transmission line at the Kirkwood Avenue substation at Osage.
The most important part of the new wind farm proposal, however, is the fact that it will be a “community-based wind farm.” It other words, it will be locally owned and locally financed.
Farmers who have turbines located on their land can be part-owners of the project, and if all goes as planned, investment opportunities will become available to all local residents.
“The exciting part about this project is the ability to keep the profits local,” said Mitchell County Economic Development Director Brenda Dryer, who is assisting with the project. “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.”
For example, Dryer points out that the wind farm near Ventura in North Iowa is owned by a Florida Light and Power Company, and many others in the state are owned by Mid-American Energy. In fact, the Cedar Valley Wind Farm proposed for Mitchell County would be one of two such projects in the entire 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.
“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 have already been completed behind the scenes for the potential Mitchell County wind farm project, and the next step is to through the regulatory process of the MISO study and present the plan 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 possibilty of erecting a windmill out at County Care with the hope of utilizing electricity as a primary heating source, thus reducing our need for 15,000 gallons of L.P. on an annual basis,” he added. “Our board welcomes all new technology and enterprises into the area.”
As far as the Cedar River Wind Farm, signs of the ongoing project are already in the works with a 60-foot wind-tower monitor (to measure the average wind-speeds) up and operating on Kirwood Avenue, just a few miles south of the KIMT television transmitter tower.
For more information on the project, contact Brenda Dryer at the Mitchell County Economic Development office in Osage.
–by David Namanny, Press-News Editor
21 February 2007
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