Iowa invests $1B in new wind farms

The move will mean an added 500 megawatts of electricity

Iowa wind farm

The Whispering Willow Wind Farm, where most of the new expansion will take place.

Credit: Alliant Energy

Iowans can expect to get half a billion watts of new clean electricity after the state's governor signed a $1 billion deal to expand Iowa's wind energy operations.

The deal will result in the largest wind farm project for Alliant Energy, the public utility holding company that will build and operate the farm. Currently, Alliant owns and operates 1,200 megawatts (mW) of wind-generated energy in Iowa under its Interstate Power and Light utility.

When completed, the new project is expected to produce an additional 500mW of wind-generated electricity, enough to power 215,000 homes.

"Our customers expect low-cost, clean energy, which is exactly what this project will bring to the communities we serve," Doug Kopp, president of Alliant Energy's Iowa utility, said in a statement. "Wind has no fuel costs and zero emissions, making it a win-win for Iowans and the Iowa economy."

Alliant Energy's Iowa utility is currently awaiting regulatory approval to expand its Whispering Willow Wind Farm in Franklin County and possibly develop wind energy in other areas of the state under the five-year project.

Most of Iowa's renewable electricity generation comes from wind, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. The state leads the nation in the percentage of  electricity generated from wind and is second in the nation, after Texas, in the total amount of electricity generated from wind.

Wind provided 31.3% of Iowa's total electricity generation in 2015, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA). Wind was second only to coal as an energy source for electricity generation in the state.

In 2015, Iowa was ranked second among U.S. states in net electricity generation from wind and third among the states in the amount of net electricity generated from all renewable energy resources, except hydroelectric.

In all, Iowa gets about 63% of its power from utility-scale renewable energy. On average, the U.S. gets 18.8% of its energy from renewables, according to the EIA.

This story, "Iowa invests $1B in new wind farms" was originally published by Computerworld.