Experts say it’s time to update the state’s power grind to ensure wind energy reaches its full potential in Iowa.
Tom Wind operates his own firm called Wind Utility Consulting in Jefferson. "We’re going to come to a point in time where there’s just going to be so much wind energy on the system that our electric system is going to have trouble accommodating it," Wind says, "so that’s where storage comes into place."
There are only two underground storage facilities for wind energy today. One’s in Germany. The other’s in Alabama, but plans are in the works to build one in Iowa, near Dallas Center. Mr. Wind has been working as a technical advisor on the project for five years.
"I think what’s going to drive this is the need for clean energy and wind generation is just simply the cleanest energy source we have today," Wind says. "But you know the downfall is that wind doesn’t blow all of the time so if there’s some way to store that so if we have a calm day that we can release that energy and keep the lights on that’s where I think the stored energy project will really shine."
One reason wind turbine "farms" have been spread out around the state is because of the issue of transmission of that electricity. "Both MidAmerican and Alliant are adding wind farms, but they’re not putting it in the windiest spot in Iowa which would be clear up in the northwest by Sibley…they’re spreading it out where the transmission lines still have capacity and so you’ll see as we go along that wind farms will be built further and further south, especially down toward the Creston area, and further east," Wind says. "So, we’re going to be doing that for a while but there will come a point where we’ll have to start investing more in electric transmission to be able to accommodate more wind power and we think probably building a transmission line toward the northwest part of the state where it’s windiest would make the most sense. "
That transmission line would link to the proposed underground power storage facility near Dallas Center. Wind made his comments late last month on the "Iowa Journal" on Iowa Public Television.