KENSETT, Iowa, Dec. 4, 2001 Participating landowners, community residents and project participants took part today in a dedication ceremony for the Top of Iowa Windfarm, which will generate a combined total of 80 MW of electricity.
The Top of Iowa Windfarm in Worth County, Iowa, is a joint venture between Midwest Renewable Energy Corporation and Texas-based Zilkha Renewable Energy. Midwest Renewable Energy initiated development of the project in the summer of 2000 and Zilkha co-developed the project and provided the capital required to build the project. The Windfarm will sell all of the electricity produced under a long-term Power Purchase Agreement with Alliant Energy of Madison, Wisconsin.
"This is our largest project in the U.S. and we are incredibly excited," said Michael Zilkha, CEO of Zilkha Renewable Energy. The dedication ceremony included special guest speaker Lee Klein, former WHO Farm Broadcaster; representatives from the offices of Governor Tom Vilsack, Senator Charles Grassley, and Senator Tom Harkin; Board of Supervisors Chairman Bev Pangburn; representatives from the windfarm project participants; and, singing and poetry readings from area school children.
The Top of Iowa Windfarm is an 80-megawatt electric generating facility. It houses 89 NEG Micon 900-kilowatt wind turbines on 235-foot-high tubular towers over an area of 5,500 acres of cropland in western Worth County, Iowa. The operations and maintenance building for the windfarm is a barn from one of the adjacent landowners that was relocated and retrofitted. The project site was selected because of its excellent wind resource, close proximity to growing power markets, expansion possibilities, and strong community support.
Over 50 local landowners are participating in the Top of Iowa Windfarm. "It's been great and the companies have been really helpful," said Clarice Hagen, one of the participating landowners. "I think it's a good thing for not only the environment, but also the farm community itself."
Steve Dryden, President of Midwest Renewable Energy, one of the project's developers, echoed Ms. Hagen's remarking. "Personally, one of the biggest rewards of the developing the project is seeing the Windfarm provide local farmers with a new crop and bringing new economic activity to Worth County," said Dryden. The sites were selected because of its excellent wind resource, close proximity to growing power markets, expansion possibilities and strong community support.
Alliant Energy is under contract to purchase 80 megawatts of electricity - enough to supply power to approximately 20,000 homes - from the Top of Iowa Windfarm and views its partnership in this project as a step toward achieving its long-term strategy. "We're very pleased to be taking one more step towards increasing Iowa's generating capacity, especially through an environmentally friendly source like wind power," said Eliot Protsch, President of Alliant Energy. "This is part of a successful partnership between industry, local landowners and the environment."
"The windfarm not only provides an environmentally-friendly power alternative, but it also creates a tax base for our county and supplemental income for farmers," said Bev Pangburn, Chairman of the Board of Supervisors.
The wind power plants pay substantial property taxes to local communities, including needed capital to the local tax base for schools and infrastructure.
"The Windfarm will go on the tax roles in 2002," said Pangburn. "Once tax abatements are phased out, it will provide close to $500,000 in total taxes beginning in 2009 and every year thereafter.
"The Top of Iowa Windfarm services approximately 30,000 homes a year with renewable, non-polluting energy. We are hoping that the United States energy policy will eventually make it possible for us to develop many more domestic wind sites," said Zilkha.
Zilkha Renewable Energy, of Houston, Texas has built or acquired approximately 250 megawatts of projects in the USA, Central America and Europe. More information about Zilkha Renewable Energy, wind energy and the Top of Iowa Windfarm can be found online at www.zilkha.com.
Plans are underway by Midwest Renewable Energy Corporation for a similar-sized windfarm to be constructed on the East side of Interstate 35 in Worth County in 2002. More information about Midwest Renewable Energy Corporation, the Top of Iowa Windfarm and its second windfarm in Worth County can be found online at www.midwest-renewable.com.