Iowa is already one of the nation’s leaders in wind energy production and efforts to expand are accelerating, according to Harold Pryor, president of the Iowa Wind Energy Association. Speaking this week at a conference in Sioux City, Pryor says development of wind energy is critical to Iowa’s economic growth.
The wind energy industry “equates to good-paying jobs and bringing families with school-age children back to our area,” Pryor says. “We’ve been fighting for decades this out-migration of families, an aging population and the demise of our rural communities and rural schools, and the wind industry is probably our best opportunity this century to turn that around.”
Pryor, of Milford, says while the improving federal climate has helped spur wind energy development, the overall economic downturn has hurt, but it’s now starting to rebound. “The credit crisis is really hurting the manufacturers and the planned wind farms,” Pryor says. “I think that’s starting to ease some and the final piece is, the federal stimulus money and all these federally-funded initiatives for loans and grants are really setting the stage for another huge push in the build-out of the wind industry.”
Pryor says there are 409-megawatts worth of planned wind energy projects in Iowa. That includes the Lost Lakes Wind Farm in the Iowa Great Lakes area, the North Star and Red Rock Wind farms, and two more being developed by Alliant Energy in north central Iowa.
Texas is the nation’s wind powerhouse, but Iowa is number-two in wind energy, recently surpassing California and Minnesota. Learn more at the American Wind Energy Association website.
Contributed by Jerry Oster, WNAX, Yankton