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Acciona to install new wind technology in eastern Iowa

WEST BRANCH, Iowa – Wind energy manufacturer Acciona Windpower announced Tuesday that it will develop a wind farm project in Cedar County this year with the installation of two of its new turbines.

The Pioneer Grove Wind Farm, which will be Acciona’s first in Iowa, will be powered by two of Acciona’s AW-3000/116, a three-megawatt turbine. The company said it will be the first installation of the new “game-changing” technology in North America.

“The AW-3000 turbines at Pioneer Grove will produce more power, more efficiently than anything we’ve installed before,” said Joe Baker, the chief executive officer of Acciona Windpower North America, a subsidiary of the Acciona Group. “With technology like the AW-3000, we can drive down energy costs and begin to take full advantage of our clean energy resources.”

Pioneer Grove Wind Farm is located nearest to the town of Mechanicsville, which is located about 55 miles from the Quad-Cities.

Acciona said it has a long-term power purchase agreement with Central Iowa Power Cooperative.

“This is really exciting for both Acciona Windpower showcasing the new technology and for Cedar County showing its suitability for wind energy,” said Erin Hazen, project development manager for Acciona Energy, a sister company to Acciona Windpower.

She added that the project follows Acciona’s business model of owning and operating the wind farms it constructs. The company operates wind farms in 30 countries.

While these will be the first AW-3000 machines installed in North America, Hazen said “These turbines are running very successfully in other countries.”

The wind farm will be located less than 20 miles from Acciona’s wind turbine assembly plant in West Branch. Opened in 2007, the plant employs more than 100 workers.

Acciona introduce the enhanced AW-3000 machine last year with a 116-meter rotor diameter. “The technology is more efficient because of the amount of wind it can capture,” she added.

In addition, the wind farm will utilize two different tower technologies. One tower will be constructed with steel to a height of 92 meters. While the other will be 100 meters tall using a concrete structure.

The significance of a concrete structure is it uses materials made locally, reducing the transportation costs for components, Hazen said.

The wind farm project is expected to create about 80 new construction jobs as well as additional work for local subcontractors and businesses.

Acciona received a $3 million grant from the Iowa Power Fund, which will help Acciona leverage more than $16 million in matching funds for the project, according to the state’s website. The financial assistance will help Acciona commercialize the AW-3000 turbine.

Hazen said the grant was “based on the innovative technology we developed in Iowa and will be deploying in Iowa.”

Applauding the State of Iowa and local governments, Baker said “Governor Branstad, Iowa Economic Development Authority Director Debi Durham, and the leaders of Cedar and Johnson counties have set new standards for how government and business can work together to achieve the common goals of creating new jobs and clean energy for Iowa and Iowans.”