CHARLES CITY – Floyd County submitted an application to the Iowa Utilities Board this week to become a small wind innovation zone.
If the application is approved, those who build small wind turbines in unincorporated areas in the county will receive a state tax credit as well as a $500 grant from the county.
Mark Kuhn, a member of the Floyd County Board of Supervisors, said the state utilities board will decide whether to approve the county’s application within 20 days of receiving it.
A state utilities board staff member will make a recommendation as to whether the application should be approved.
“We have heard that we will get a favorable recommendation,” Kuhn said.
The Iowa Legislature voted to enact the program in 2009 as a way to encourage development of wind energy, but no counties have applied for it until now.
Johnson County submitted its application on Monday, the same day as Floyd County.
“We decided to join forces,” Kuhn said. “We are helping each other do this. It’s not a race anymore (to see who will get approved first).”
If Floyd County is approved as a small wind innovation zone, those who build a wind turbine of up to 100 kilowatts in an unincorporated area will get an expedited review process from the utility company as well as a 1.5 cent state tax credit for each kilowatt hour of energy produced by the turbine.
In addition, Floyd County will award a $500 grant to those who get a small wind turbine up and running.
“You can use it (the money) any way you want to,” Kuhn said.
So far a farmer and the owner of a rural residence have expressed interest in putting up a small wind turbine if the county is approved as a small wind innovation zone, according to Kuhn.
Most of the time the energy produced by a small wind turbine isn’t used directly by the farm, residence or small business but instead goes into the grid, he said.
However, as part of the federal Energy Policy Act, all public electric utilities are required to make net metering available to customers.
This means the turbine owner receives retail credit for some of the electricity created by the turbine.
The Iowa League of Cities, the Iowa State Association of Counties, the Iowa Environmental Council, the Iowa Wind Energy Association and representatives from the utility industry have developed a model for a small wind innovation ordinance for counties.
This model ordinance outlines setback requirements, stipulations for tower height and requires that the design of the foundation for the turbine be approved by an engineer, among other restrictions.
It also requires that national electrical standards be met.
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