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Wind energy: Three monotower turbines to be constructed east of Creston

The Creston skyline could have three wind turbines by this time next year to provide energy to Creston.

Goodwin Energy Inc. Vice President Kurt Sherer met with Union County Supervisors and Engineer Steve Akes in a preliminary meeting about the transportation and construction of three monotower wind turbines east of Creston.

Goodwin Energy Inc. will be selling the energy produced by the turbines to Alliant Energy to provide power for Creston.

“We sized our project to be compatible with their base load,” Sherer said. “Nothing that we supply can go back into the transmition lines, it is just feeding to Creston.”

Union County does not require any permits to construct the towers, which will be more than 262 feet tall and have a rotation diameter of more than 364 feet.

Sherer said he is required to meet with the county engineer to discuss the best route to take to the construction site because the equipment being hauled in are oversized loads.

“We post a bond so that if there is any damage to the road, there will be money to repair it,” Sherer said.

An inspection will be done before construction begins and after the last truck leaves to see if any work is needed to repair the roads back to their original condition.

The site has not been finalized yet, but will be located east of Creston. There are several factors that go into making a good site to erect a wind turbine.

“You are looking for good wind resources, so we had to look at the topography of Creston,” Sherer said. “You want to be close, but stay away from heavy residential areas and find a landowner that is receptive to building.”

According to the Iowa Wind Energy Association, Iowa land owners with turbines on their land receive more than $16 million annually in lease payments.

Benefits for Union County

The three wind turbines will be an increase in the tax valuation for the county. Sherer said each turbine averages at least $400,000 in tax revenue during the turbine’s life span, which is usually more than 20 years.

“We also bring in local labor and like to use local content – gravel, cement and skilled trades,” Sherer said.

Sherer said the cement used for the foundation of the wind turbine project is comparable to building more than 30 houses.

“Anything new helps increase the taxable valuation of the county,” Supervisor Ron Riley said. “It can also be used as an economic development tool for companies that are looking at renewable energy.”

The Union County project is one of 14 wind turbine projects that Goodwin Energy Inc. will be working on this year. Sherer is working to finalize the construction details so work on the projects can begin simultaneously.

Once the foundation is set and the cement has had time to cure, it will only take two weeks to build all three towers.

“We don’t want to go in, stick up some turbines and go,” Sherer said. “I believe what we are doing benefits the community.”

A poll by Public Opinion Strategies shows 85 percent of Iowans support wind energy, more than any other energy source.

According to the Iowa Wind Energy Association, Iowa has about 3,200 utility scale wind turbines in operation. The state currently ranks third with more than 6,000 jobs related to wind energy.

“It is a mature technology,” Sherer said. “We do not have the same concerns we had 20 years ago. We used to have a lot of bird kills, but the turbines used to be smaller and worked at a higher rpm.”

The towers are a single, solid pillar with three rotating blades that max out at 17 revolutions per minute. The monotower is not conducive for birds to build nests.

For more information on wind turbines, visit www.iowawindenergy.org.