Supporters of an Iowa project that would use wind energy to store compressed air in underground caverns for later use say their initial timetable was too ambitious. Kent Holst is development director for the 300-million-dollar Stored Wind Energy Project or I-SEP. Holst says having the facility operational by 2008 wasn’t very realistic, given its size and scope. Holst says if everything stays on schedule, it should be operational sometime in 2010. He says the unusual project involves using giant wind turbines that would use wind power to compress air in massive aquifers deep under the earth, spaces that now contain huge stores of groundwater. Holst says some federal grant money will be used to test the pumps. Both pumping water out of the formation and injecting air into the formation to see how it all reacts. Senator Tom Harkin says he’s secured one-point-five million dollars for engineering, geological and architectural assistance for the project. He expects the fiscal year 2006 Senate Energy and Water Appropriations Bill to pass the House and Senate later this week. The only two compressed air plants in the world are in Germany and Alabama. The Iowa plant would be the first to harness energy from wind turbines to produce the compressed air.
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