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Sac and Fox Tribe of the Mississippi in Iowa - 2010 Project

Project Overview
Tribe/Awardee: Sac and Fox Tribe of the Mississippi in Iowa
Location: Tama, IA
Project Title: Meskwaki Wind Energy Assessment Project
Type of Application: Feasibility
DOE Grant Number: DE-EE0002519
Project Amounts:
DOE: $246,770
Awardee: $8,052
Total: $254,822
Project Status: Complete  More
Project Period
of Performance:
Start: April 2010
End: March 2012


The Sac and Fox Tribe of the Mississippi in Iowa Wind Energy Feasibility Study project will prepare the tribe for the development of clean, dependable, renewable wind energy on tribal land. The feasibility study reports resulting from this project, including technical and business analyses, will be used to obtain contracts and financing required to develop and implement a wind turbine project on the Meskwaki Settlement. Ultimately, the tribe's goal is to produce 2 MW of power and to reduce the cost of electricity currently being incurred by the Meskwaki Casino.

Project Description


To justify the possibility of even starting this assessment project, the tribe has worked with Iowa Energy Center (affiliated with Iowa State University). Using data collected from 15 anemometer towers placed at strategic locations across the state of Iowa, their researchers ran extensive computer modeling to create a "Wind Energy Calculator," which gives the expected power generation at a large number of locations in Iowa. One of the locations on their menu is the Meaquakie (sic, Meskwaki) Settlement.

The Energy Center's wind model (calculator) predicts an average annual wind speed of 6.84 meters per second at the Meskwaki Settlement, yielding a wind power density of 325 watts per square meter with an average capacity factor of 26.56%. The Energy Center also provides breakdowns by month, and tables of statistics including hours-at-velocity. While it might be tempting to simply use this information to replace this 12-month assessment study, that would not be acceptable, as none of the Energy Center's towers used to create the model were placed directly on the Meskwaki Settlement. This computer-modeled meteorological data makes an excellent wind prospecting tool. This computer modeled wind calculator work reinforces the concept that the prevailing class 3 winds in this area of Iowa can create the expected quantities of electricity, justifying going forward with this feasibility study.

Project Objectives

The objective of the Sac and Fox Tribe of the Mississippi in Iowa project is to produce feasibility study reports, including technical and business analyses, that will be used to obtain contracts and financing required to develop and implement a wind turbine project on the Meskwaki Settlement.

The tribe's overall objectives are to meet the energy needs of the community with clean energy; bring renewable energy to the settlement in a responsible, affordable manner; maximize both the economic and the spiritual benefits to the tribe from energy independence; integrate the tribe's energy policies with its economic development goals; and contribute to achieving the tribe's long-term goals of self-determination and sovereignty.

The tribe envisions current and future assessment projects providing the data needed to qualify enough renewable energy projects to provide complete coverage for the entire Meskwaki Settlement, including meeting future economic development projects' energy needs.


The Meskwaki Nation will install an anemometer tower at a site that has been prequalified as the site most likely to produce maximum electric power from the wind. Meteorological data will be collected from the tower's sensors for a one-year period, as required for due diligence to identify the site as appropriate for the installation of a wind turbine to provide electric power for the community. The collected data will be analyzed by a meteorologist and a professionally certified wind engineer to produce the reports of expected power generation at the site for the specific wind turbine(s) under consideration for installation.

Anemometer data will be collected at three heights on a 60-meter tower. This data will be the wind assessment output, providing the needed input for the engineering assessment and technical analysis. A preliminary review of recent casino electric bills has been conducted, including charts of 13 months of rolling usage displayed in bar-graph form. The casino usage never dropped below 1.1 million kilowatt-hours (kWh) in any of the previous 13 months. On the high side, usage stayed below 1.2 million kWh in all but 2 of the 13 months, providing a very steady, dependable load with little variation.

A more extensive load assessment for the community will be generated as part of this project. Interconnection for the expected single-turbine project to follow will be less complex than for a multi-turbine, remote wind farm. There is no intention to sell electricity back into the grid from the first turbine, or to connect to multiple endpoints. The area under consideration for placing the anemometer tower (and hence the wind turbine) is within 2,000 meters of the point of connection—the existing meter for the casino. Discussions will continue with the regional electric coop, T.I.P R.E.C., resulting in a formal connection plan.

Project Location

The Sac and Fox Tribe of the Mississippi in Iowa is located on a parcel of land known as the Meskwaki Indian Settlement in Tama County in central Iowa near the communities of Tama and Toledo, Iowa. The tribe owns more than 7,000 acres of land in Iowa, mostly along and near the Iowa River, and has a tribal membership of approximately 1,300. The two closest major metropolitan areas are Cedar Rapids, approximately 55 miles to the east, and Iowa's state capital, Des Moines, approximately 65 miles to the west of the settlement.

Project Status

This project is complete. For details, see the final report (PDF 6.6 MB).

The project was competitively selected under the Tribal Energy Program's fiscal year 2009 funding opportunity announcement, "Assessing the Feasibility of Renewable Energy Development and Energy Efficiency Deployment on Tribal Lands," and started in April 2010.

The November 2009, October 2010, and November 2011 project status reports provide more information.

For current project status or additional information, please contact the project contacts.

Project Contact

Lucas Smith
349 Meskwaki Road
Tama, IA 52339

Thomas Gearing
349 Meskwaki Road
Tama, IA 52339