Grassley applauded at Schaller milestone
On a very wind-swept hilltop commanding the rolling Iowa prairie, Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley, local business and government leaders, and the hierarchy of MidAmerican Energy Friday dedicated the first of a forest of wind turbines that will eventually comprise what is billed as the world's largest windfarm.
The $323 million project was made possible in large part to Grassley's role in getting wind energy tax credits attached to the Working Families Tax Relief Act which gave the go-ahead to finish the Intrepid Wind Farm based near Schaller. The local portion of the wind field, which consists of 107 turbines standing 213 feet tall at the hub with 113-foot blades, extends from south of Schaller then north into Buena Vista County.
The Intrepid site, along with another portion of the project in Wright and Hamilton counties, will total 310.5 megawatts when completed. The project will generate enough energy to take care of 85,000 homes.
"It really does deliver long-term benefits and it does have an impact on Iowa said Greg Abel, president of MidAmerican Energy Holdings Company.
Abel thanked Sen. Grassley for his help in getting energy tax credits extended to help make Intrepid a reality.
"He did everything he could to renew it," Abel said, calling Grassley "the father of the production tax credit."
Saying wind energy projects were among his favorites, Grassley said there were a number of "constants" one could count on in regard to Americans and energy use. Those include the fact that Americans are used to having a lot of energy and a high standard of living. Fortunately, Grassley said it costs half as much to produce the same amount of energy as it did in the 1970s. And with the advent of alternative energies such as wind power, Grassley said the U.S. can become less dependent on foreign oil.
"We're fed up, aren't we, with the high prices at the gas stations," Grassley said. "We want to and we are using alternative energy to our benefit. New technology is expected to drop the prices even lower."
Grassley pledged to continue to work for alternative energy.
"As long as I'm in a position to help, I'll do whatever I can," Grassley said. The senator couldn't help but end his remarks by saying, "Wind energy is a breath of fresh air."
Following his remarks, Grassley updated the Pilot-Tribune on progress on the federal Highway Bill which includes funding for four-laning U.S. Highway 20. Grassley said the bill calls for a 43 percent increase over the next six years compared to the previous six.
In addition to the Highway Bill, Grassley said the Jobs Bill passed a week ago puts $900 million more into Iowa's road fund over the next six years. Grassley said the Jobs Bill also reduces the corporate tax rate from 35 to 32 percent.
Iowa State Rep. Mary Lou Freeman of Alta said the Alta School District is already seeing a great benefit from the wind farm already in place in the school district. She said 16 percent of district funding comes from that project.
"You couldn't ask for a better project," Freeman said.