Iowans involved in the growing industry of harnessing the power of the wind to generate electricity are gathering in Des Moines for the 6th Annual Iowa Wind Power Conference. Harold Prior, executive director of the Iowa Wind Energy Association, says the three-day event will include a line-up of speakers, workshops, exhibitors and new research displays.
Prior says, “We’ll have major component manufacturer representatives here, wind farm developers, lawyers, insurance folks, operation and maintenance types, students that are doing research or who are preparing for a career in the wind energy industry.” Iowa is one of the nation’s leaders in wind energy production and several large companies are located here that make the various components of wind turbines.
Prior says the developing wind industry is sparking a host of innovative new businesses, some of which will be spotlighted at the conference. Prior says, “Aeris Corporation, which started as a helicopter crop-spraying business, now sees an opportunity to clean blades, towers and insulators on the high-voltage transmission lines using a 40-foot high-pressure washer mounted on a full-size helicopter.”
Despite some legislative speed bumps from Congress in recent months, Prior says Iowa’s wind energy industry continues to grow. The national goal is to generate 20-percent of our power from the wind by 2030, a goal Iowa already surpassed last year.
“Iowa just moved back into first place in the nation as the top producer of wind-generated electricity at 24.5% in 2012 which is up from about 18.8% in 2011,” Prior says. “I would see Iowa generating close to 30% of its electricity from wind energy by the end of this calendar year.”
He says Iowa is also first in the nation in the number of wind energy manufacturing companies and wind-related businesses, and first in the number of wind energy jobs, now around 3,000. The conference runs through Wednesday at the Iowa Events Center in Des Moines.