Iowa’s Onshore Wind Farm in Commercial Operation

The US$42 million Carroll Area Wind Farm in Iowa will power 7,500 homes annually.
Published: Tue 17 Feb 2015

NJR Clean Energy Ventures, the unregulated distributed power unit of New Jersey Resources in the US, has announced that the Carroll Area Wind Farm has achieved commercial operation.

The company currently owns and runs over 100 MW of residential and commercial solar and wind power facilities.

Thousands of homes powered by wind

The construction costs of the wind farm come to approximately US$42 million. The farm is located on 1,100 acres of rural agricultural land in Carroll County, Iowa, which is about 65 miles (104km) northwest of Des Moines, Iowa.

The Carroll Area Wind Farm consists of nine Siemens SWT 2.3MW, 354m rotor diameter wind turbines that are 262 feet high, with a total capacity of 20.7MW. The site will produce enough energy to power over 7,500 homes annually.

The project’s entire energy output, capacity benefits and renewable attributes, will be sold through a 25-year power purchase agreement (PPA) with MidAmerican Energy, Iowa’s largest energy company.

MidAmerican Energy serves about 739,000 electric customers in Iowa, Illinois and South Dakota, as well as 719,000 natural gas customers in Iowa, Illinois, South Dakota and Nebraska.

Additionally, NJR Clean Energy Ventures expects the wind farm will qualify for federal production tax credits (PTC), which are based on a kilowatt-hour output. All PTCs generated by the Carroll Area Wind Farm will be used by NJR.

NJRCEV engaged Mortenson Construction, a construction firm with more than 124 completed wind projects to date, for the engineering, procurement and construction of the project.

Iowa - wind powered

MidAmerican Energy's recent announcement of another 1,050MW of wind projects and the Rock Island Clean Line High Voltage DC project to carry 4,000MW of wind energy to east coast markets will result in over 10,000MW of installed wind energy capacity. This should occur by 2017 which is well ahead of Iowa Wind Energy Association’s (IWEA) goal of 10,000MW by 2020.

Over US$9.8 billion dollars of capital has been invested in Iowa's wind farms and manufacturing facilities. Another US$8-10 billion will likely be invested in the next 3 to 5 years. This is not surprising since 75% of Iowa is suitable for wind energy development with an estimated total wind resource of 570,000MW. Even Google is tapping into Iowa’s wind resources for its energy hungry data centres. [Engerati – Renewable Energy Investments- Essential for Tech Firms.]

The water consumption savings from wind projects in Iowa total more than 3.2 billion gallons of water per year. It has also been calculated that Iowa's wind power installations will avoid over 8.7 million metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions annually. This is equivalent to taking more than 1.5 million cars off the road.

Iowa has 3,198 utility scale wind turbines in operation with 100 wind projects on line and producing electricity. During 2012, Iowa produced a national record of almost 25% of all the electricity generated in the state from wind turbines. Iowa is back to first in the nation in terms of the percentage of total generation from wind energy. Iowa was also the first state in the nation to exceed 20% of total generation coming from wind energy.

The IWEA is proposing a new goal of 20,000MW of installed capacity by 2030.