An Interstate 80 rest area in western Iowa is closed today for the installation of a wind turbine blade. Mark Masteller, with the Iowa Department of Transportation, is quick to point out the blade is not being placed on a functioning wind turbine.

“We did look into that because wind energy is a theme for this rest area,” Masteller said. “But, this rest area is pretty low in the landscape. It’s kind of down in a bottom area, next to a creek. The experts at MidAmerican Energy told us it would not be worthwhile to try and harvest wind energy for this site.”

The westbound I-80 rest area is located between Adair and Casey. The blade will essentially serve as sculpture. Masteller said it will join several other pieces of art and plaques at the rest area that highlight Iowa’s wind energy industry.

“This is at the threshold of a wind farm in Adair County,” Masteller said. “It just kind of fits with the theme. It was donated to the state and it’s just a great fit.” The blade and transportation to the site were donated to the State of Iowa by Siemens Energy, which has a wind turbine blade manufacturing plant in Fort Madison. The blade will be placed vertically.

“When you’re driving by, you really don’t get a sense of scale. I mean, you realize those wind turbines are big, but just this blade is 148 feet tall. It’s almost equivalent to a 15 story building,” Masteller said. “I think when people have a chance to get out of their car and get up close to this blade, they’ll really get a sense for what monumental items these really are.”

The rest area will be closed through approximately 5 p.m.Thursday to allow two large cranes to install the wind blade. Last year, Iowa became the first state in the nation to generate at least 20% of its electricity from wind power.

Iowa currently has nearly 2,900 wind turbines creating 4,500 megawatts of electricity.