Grinnell College blown off course on campus wind energy project

The John H. T. Main Residence Hall on the Grinnell College campus. (Wikimedia)
The John H. T. Main Residence Hall on the Grinnell College campus. (Wikimedia)

Nick Fetty | October 28, 2014

Plans for a 5.1-megawatt wind farm on the Grinnell College campus have come to a halt after officials with the college and its utility provider were unable to reach an agreement.

Officials from Madison, Wisconsin-based Alliant Energy said that if the plans for the wind farm were to go through, Alliant would “have to curtail much of the project’s energy production” to accommodate for another wind energy developer which applied for an interconnection agreement before the private liberal arts college which serves approximately 1,721 students. The company, Optimum Energy, would have priority for generating and selling energy back to Alliant, according to Alliant Energy policy.

The Grinnell College Board of Trustees first approved of the plan in February 2011. The $13 million project consisted of a three turbine wind farm which was expected to provide the college with more than half of its energy consumption. Research by Grinnell College alumnus Mia Devine led to the 2007 installation of a wind turbine on the Conard Environmental Research Area, a 365-acre field station about 11 miles west of campus. The wind farm project was based off of similar projects at Luther College in Decorah, Iowa and Carleton College in Northfield, Minnesota.

The utility board will examine interconnection issues in an attempt to resurrect the plan but Grinnell College Environmental and Safety Coordinator Chris Bair thinks it is unlikely the project will move forward. Officials with the college have considered other energy alternatives such as solar panels and biogas.

Mahaska County supervisors consider tax abatement for construction of wind farm

Nick Fetty | July 8, 2014
Wind turbines along Interstate 35 in Iowa. Photo by Brian Hoffman; Flickr
Wind turbines along Interstate 35 in Iowa.
Photo by Brian Hoffman; Flickr

During a meeting Monday, the Mahaska County Board of Supervisors discussed offering a tax abatement for a wind farm that RPM Access LLC hopes to build in Mahaska County.

The proposed abatement would reduce the level of taxation placed on RPM Access and Supervisor Mike Vander Molen said this abatement is necessary to make the project feasible. The $290 million project will be dependent upon all landowners involved in the proposal agreeing to sell their land and is expected to bring $60 million into the county over a 30-year span.

Per Iowa Code, the Board of Supervisors must wait 30 days before an ordinance can be adopted. This topic will be revisited during the board meeting on August 18. Construction on the wind farm may begin as early as 2016 and is expected to take about seven months to complete.

RPM Access has 13 projects in Iowa and one in Kansas. The De Soto-based company is also working with Facebook and Google on upcoming operations coming to the Hawkeye State.

On the Radio: New Facebook Data Center

Photo by user vanhookc; Flickr


This week’s On the Radio segment covers the new Facebook data center that will be opening in Altoona, and their wind energy plan. Listen to the audio below, or continue reading for the transcript.

Continue reading

Google announces $75 million investment in central Iowa wind farm

Photo by cannellfan, Flickr.

Google announced today that it’s investing $75 million in a central Iowa wind farm that produces 50 megawatts of electricity – enough to power 15,000 homes.

According to Google spokeswoman Kate Hurowitz, the investment is part of an effort to “green the grid in regions where we operate.”

“Google has invested heavily in wind energy because it’s good for the environment and because it will provide a strong financial return,” Hurowitz said. “We believe the world needs a wide range of renewable energy technologies to build a clean energy future.”

For more information, read the full article at the Des Moines Register.

New wind farm coming to Franklin County

Photo by Brooke Raymond, Flickr.

Iowa will have one more wind energy farm in it by the end of the year if Alliant Energy has its way.

Read more from the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel here:

Alliant Energy Corp. will build another wind farm, even though its two regulated utilities already are on track to comply with renewable energy targets in Wisconsin and Iowa, the Madison company said Thursday. Continue reading