I am a retired neurosurgeon having lived and practiced in Eureka for the last 40 years. For a few years after I retired I owned a Ferndale bottoms dairy which I subsequently sold to my daughter and son-in-law.
I grew up in Northwestern Iowa and still own farmland there; some of which has been in my family for nearly 100 years. There are many wind turbines in Iowa. 25% of Iowa’s electricity is produced by wind turbines. Iowa is the second state after Texas in wind turbine produced electricity and has more wind turbine electric production than California. There are many huge wind turbines all over Northwest Iowa.
In 2015, I was approached by Apex Company to put wind turbines on some of my farm land. The project was known as the Upland Prairie Wind, LLC. It was to produce 300 MW by erecting 130 to 150 wind turbines. They needed to sign up 75 leases in order to get enough wind turbines to make the project viable. Apex opened an office in Royal, Iowa which is in the center of their project area. They talked to me several times and I received a long and complicated lease and multiple brochures about the advantages of me signing and the advantages of wind power in general. I was skeptical and I did not sign a lease. Only 10 people signed the lease. Apex then proposed a new area several miles north and several miles east of Royal. That project obtained enough lease signers and most of the turbines are erected and will start producing electricity soon.
I originally thought putting wind turbines on my farmland was a good idea. I would be paid money for the electricity generated, the people in the area would get reduced electric bills and I would be helping the environment. If I signed the lease, which was about one inch thick and would have had to been reviewed by my lawyers, I would sign over everything needed to put turbines on my land but receive no firm payments or guarantees.
The very pleasant turbine people suggested that I would receive a one-time payment of $2500 for each turbine and a minimum turbine payment of $3500/ MW of the rated nameplate capacity annually for 30 years. They also suggested that the annual turbine lease for 20 years would be $9000 per year with an additional $8000 per year for the electricity generated. They cautioned that the electricity generated and hence the payment might not be that much. The profit to grow corn on one acre of farmland is about $100 to $200 per year. I would be making $17,000 per year from that same acre by generating electricity.
Fortunately only 10 of the 75 needed neighbors signed a lease and so the project was abandoned in my area. The project was moved a few miles north. That project is now near completion and ready to generate electricity.
So how has it turned out? The ratepayers (farm and home electric users) have seen their electric bills increased by 20% to cover the construction costs. About 90% of the farmers that signed up in the newer project wish they had not. The turbine construction company which is not the same as the turbine electric company have not kept many of their promises. The reimbursement is now $11,200 per year per turbine. This is a flat fee for 30 years which apparently does not take into account inflation. There have been many construction problems. Many of the rural roads have been badly damaged by the movement of the turbines and huge cranes necessary to erect them. The county is suing the turbine company for not fulfilling their promise of repairing the roads. When the cranes and turbine parts go on the farmers land, they break much of the underground tile that is necessary for drainage of the farmland. They do not fulfill their promise to repair the tile which markedly reduces the land’s productivity. The small roads on the farmer’s fields are much larger than promised and the huge loads compact the land such that the land’s productivity does not return for many years, if at all. At the end of the 30 year life expectancy of the turbine, the concrete base, which is the size of a small house, must be removed. The removal is supposed to be done by jack hammering the top 10 feet and then replacing that with rich farmland.
Having visited the industrial wind turbine farms in the Palm Springs area, I note that the older turbines are still there and in a state of disrepair. I am skeptical that the turbine company in Iowa will not be bankrupt and will fulfill their promise of restoring the land to its former state.
I am very glad that I did not sign up for wind turbines in Iowa and would encourage people in this area not to sign up for wind turbines here.