Bloomfield’s solar tracking system – the largest in Iowa – is now providing approximately 10 percent of the city’s energy and generating interest around the state in this community’s efforts to produce clean, affordable and renewable energy.
Statewide onlookers are likely to keep their attention focused on Davis County’s accomplishments as a wind energy project is currently in the feasibility stage of development for southwestern Davis County, southeastern Appanoose County, and northern Schuyler County in Missouri.
Nick Schuler of Tradewind Energy, which is headquartered in Lenexa, Kan., said the company is in the process of entering into wind energy leases with individual landowners in those counties. The leases would give the company “the rights to run transmission, environmental, and wind studies to determine the viability of the project” in the areas listed above.
Schuler said the number of acres and turbines in the project has yet to be determined, but farmers could continue to raise crops in close proximity to the turbines that are erected.
“Each turbine will have a base above-ground that is roughly 18 feet in diameter,” he said. “There will be a well-maintained gravel access road and a gravel area around the base of that turbine.
“Altogether this equals roughly an acre of land. Most farmers will farm as close to the gravel as they can get and use the access roads on a regular basis.”
Schuler said according to research performed by Iowa State University Agronomy Professor Gene Takle, farmers could expect positive effects on their crops from the turbines in their fields.
Takle said one effect is the fluctuation of air pressure around wind turbines.
“There is a lot of carbon dioxide in the top few feet of soil – as much as two or three times what is in the air. The movement of air by the turbines pumps air down, and the movement draws carbon dioxide out of the soil so more would be available to the plant for photosynthesis,” Takle said.
“The air moving down also creates more plant movement, which increases sunlight penetrating the dense crop canopy.”
However, Takle said there is a tendency for nighttime temperatures to be higher on wind farms, “but overall crops grown on wind farms seem to benefit,” he said.
Though Tradewind has been discussing the wind energy project with the Davis County Supervisors for months, many questions have yet to be answered.
The maximum amount of energy the project could produce is approximately 300 megawatts, Schuler said, but the exact amount has yet to be determined.
Schuler also said the exact dates for construction and completion have yet to be determined. The project could benefit from the Federal Renewable Electricity Production Tax Credit (PTC) depending on the completion date.
Wind turbines have been not been springing up across southern Iowa’s landscape as rapidly as in northern Iowa. However, Schuler said, “Recent advances in wind turbine technology and project design will allow for a wind project to be successful in Schuyler County, Mo., and Appanoose and Davis Counties.
Though many Davis Countyans might be concerned that the condition of the county’s secondary roads could be a deterrent to installation of wind turbines, Schuler says Tradewind is prepared to work through those difficulties.
“As industry standard, developers will work with individual counties, and potentially third-party engineers, to identify the implications of transporting the equipment necessary to build throughout the roject area,” he said.
“The project will enter into a Road Maintenance Agreement with the county to lay out the framework for construction and list any necessary improvements.
“These costs are absorbed by the project,” he assured.
Schuler said Tradewind Energy is one of the largest utility-scale wind and solar project development companies in the county and is active in 26 states.
“Tradewind has developed more than 3,500 megawatts (MW) of contracted and operating wind and solar projects, with more than 1,300 MW of wind energy in operation in Kansas and Missouri.”
The American Wind Energy Association (AEWA) named Tradewind the number one utility-scale developer for the U.S. for 2017.
According AEWA, “the company has earned a reputation for innovation in the market, for its highly skilled and passionate team, and fo its deply held respect for the people, environment, and communities where its projects are developed.”