Huge area energy development hangs in balance, could spring up by this summer
Although Clipper Windpower promised one of the largest wind farms in the world by April of this year, no towers have been put up, and no turbines are turning over Schaller - yet.
MidAmerican Energy, which will take over ownership of the 107-tower development in northern Sac and southern Buena Vista County, along with another 100-turbine wind farm in North Central Iowa, says it's doing the best it can under the circumstances.
The circumstances being the U.S. Senate.
The Senate failed to pass the massive energy bill in December of last year. Within that bill was an extension of the wind production tax credits - vital to the wind development.
Wind developers throughout the country are waiting for the Senate to attach the renewal of the tax credits to another bill which would allow renewable energy development to effectively continue.
MidAmerican isn't exactly waiting patiently. It has, after all, a project that will have a capacity of 310.5 megawatts and cost more than $320 million at stake.
Tom Budler, MidAmerican's wind project manager, said the local project is poised to build.
"Certainly the condition for us to move forward on this project is the renewal of those tax credits," Budler said. "We're excited about the project and hopeful the legislature will pass this soon. But we are doing things to keep the project moving forward."
With early passage, the company still believes it can start construction late this spring or early this summer.
"We believe we could complete the project this year," Budler said.
Wind energy in Iowa produces 471 megawatts of electricity and with the addition of the MidAmerican project, Iowa's total output would increase to 771.5 megawatts of clean, renewable energy, according to MidAmerican spokesperson, Allan Urliss.