Iowa Legislature, Farmers Union Boost Small Wind Projects

May 08, 2006

The Iowa Legislature extended for another year a tax credit of $0.015 per kilowatt-hour for wind projects and the Iowa Farmers Union announced an agreement with MidAmerican Energy Company to purchase 40 megawatts (MW) of wind-generated capacity from community-based wind projects. The tax credit continues a program begun in 2005 that was quickly exhausted last year. This year's funding will only cover applications that are already filed.

The agreement between MidAmerican and the Iowa Farmers Union looks to give Iowa farmers a larger role in the rapidly developing wind industry in Iowa. Currently the state ranks third in wind generating capacity after Texas and California, and it probably has as many community wind projects as any state in the country. Community wind projects are smaller than multi-megawatt utility scale projects and are locally owned. The agreement calls for MidAmerican to pay slightly less than $0.03 per kilowatt-hour (kWh) for community wind projects from farmers and farm associations.

MidAmerican, which is headquartered in Des Moines, already boasts the most wind energy on its system of any utility in North America. And it recently received approval from the Iowa Utilities Board (IUB) to build an addition 545 MW of wind capacity. The agreement with the Farm Bureau was included in the IUB rate approval. See the MidAmerican April 20 press release.

Director of the Iowa Farmers Union Gregg Heide said he wants the utility to purchase more electricity from farmer and community owned wind power plants. Heidi said, "Once we raised the issue, MidAmerican understood what we were talking about."

Source: an article in the May 5 edition of the Des Moines Register by Farm Editor Jerry Perkins titled "Iowa's harvest of wind."