Iowa plans for eighty megawatt

A long-time wind energy player in the US Midwest is proposing to build northern Iowa's next large scale project, an 80 MW wind farm near Cerro Gordo. Steve Dryden, once a project manager for FPL Energy's Cerro Gordo wind farm and now with Midwest Renewable Energy Corp, is joining forces with International Wind Corp of Dallas, Texas, in a joint venture known as Northern Iowa Windpower LLC (NIW).

The company has chosen a site north of Cerro Gordo on the highest point in Worth County, a 400 metre (1300 foot) ridge that includes 2226 hectares (5500 acres) of cropland. Eighty-eight 900 kW NEG Micon turbines on 70 metre towers will be used. The site is ideal for its proximity to the Chicago, Madison, Milwaukee and Minneapolis power markets, according to NIW. It is also "as far west as possible" to take advantage of the best winds and with enough space for easy expansion.

The site is also close to a 161 kV transmission line that has available capacity and access to the power markets Dryden hopes to tap. Alliant Energy of Madison owns the line and NIW will have to build a substation 5.5 miles east of the ridge and then connect the wind farm from an overhead power line.

NIW expects to have permits tied down by the end of the year and is now searching the energy markets for a buyer for the output, scheduled to be on-line by the last day of 2001 to qualify for wind's federal Production Tax Credit.