The national goal is to generate 20-percent of our power from the wind by 2030, a goal Iowa has now surpassed, the first state in the U.S. to do so. Harold Prior, executive director of the Iowa Wind Energy Association, says new figures show Iowa generated 24.5-percent of its power last year from the wind, beating the previous year’s total of around 19-percent.
“There were a lot of detractors that felt wind was too intermittent a resource, it was too undependable to be able to provide 20% of the nation’s electrical generation,” Prior says. “Iowa’s a very strong test case, along with some other upper Midwest states, showing you can operate very reliably with 20% or even more.”
Iowa is the nation’s far-and-above leader in the percentage of power generated by the wind and Prior expects our lead to grow even further this year. He says construction on a number of Iowa wind turbines was completed late last fall.
“So we only got a small amount of 600-some additional megawatts that went in the ground in the fourth quarter in production credited to the entire year of 2012,” Prior says. “I would suspect that in 2013, we’ll be well over 25%, probably in the vicinity of 27%.”
While it’s a landmark for Iowa’s wind energy industry, the news may leave many consumers wondering if it’s having any impact on their monthly utility bills. Prior says, absolutely. “Wind is putting a lot of very cheap electricity on the wholesale marketplace and many of the utilities across the nation are making significant moves to wind, very much like MidAmerican Energy has done over the last several years,” Prior says.
“They maintain it’s one of the reasons they’re able to keep the electric rates low and not having to pass extra cost increases on to their customers.” The 6th Annual Iowa Wind Power Conference is scheduled for March 25-27 at the Iowa Events Center in Des Moines.
The conference will include talks by state and national leaders, transmission project updates, new wind energy research, 20 breakout sessions and 60,000 square feet of exhibits.