Alliant Energy finalizes ownership of Upland Prairie Wind Farm
The planned wind turbine project, the Upland Prairie Wind Farm, has officially changed hands. Alliant Energy finalized an agreement with Apex Clean Energy for the wind farm which will result in 121 wind turbines installed across northwest Clay County and Dickinson County.
Alliant Energy indicated the acquisition as part of its plan to add 500 megawatts of wind energy to its current operations. The Upland Prairie Wind Farm is expected to produce 300 megawatts of electricity, which officials note would make it the company’s largest producer of wind energy once completed.
“We are — right now — looking to build, we hope to build up to 1,000 MW, or a gigawatt. That’s a big number for the amount of energy,” said Justin Foss, spokesperson for Alliant Energy. “The largest part of that is the Upland Prairie Wind Project which is 300 MW. ... A gigawatt of energy for a year is equivalent to 430,000 homes for a year.”
Foss said Alliant’s foray into wind energy is an economically efficient one, and as a way to diversify its energy sources.
“Here in Iowa there are certain parts of the state where we’re seeing wind consistently more than other parts,” Foss said. “It makes sense to put up a way to collect that wind where it is more prevalent to be more efficient. Northwest Iowa is among the best areas in the country ... to collect that wind.
“If you live there you understand — it’s windy more consistently in that area — and that is the area where we see great potential.
Now that the cost has come down and the technology has improved, it makes sense both environmentally and financially to use more clean energy and so we are transitioning our mix of where we get energy from and how we generate this to cleaner sources. It’s not only the right thing to do environmentally, but the right thing to do financially.”
Foss addressed two questions he’s heard recently about Alliant’s choice to pursue wind energy as an energy option.
“We have customers ask why we’re building wind, when coal is cheap — but coal isn’t that cheap anymore,” Foss said. “Wind energy is competitive, and competes and sometimes beats some other more traditional forms of energy.”
He continued, “We also get asked, ‘If it’s so cheap why not go all wind?’ ... We are making sure we have a diverse mix so that when the wind is blowing we can get as much benefit as possible and when the wind isn’t blowing we still (are providing power) so people can turn on their lights when they get home.”
Though the deal has been finalized, Foss explained that it will still be sometime before the project is completed. Major construction is projected to begin in 2018.
“We expect to have it in service in early 2019,” Foss said. “Closing the books on it is going to take a year.”
Foss encouraged community members to reach out if any questions arise.
“One of the big things that we prize and look forward to — especially in the northwest Iowa area is working with these communities, Everly, Spencer, the overall Lakes area in Clay and Dickinson counties. We know the key to success here is having a close partnership with the communities, with the land owners — these wind farms not only benefit the communities but the landowners too in the extra tax dollars,” Foss said. “We want to be a good neighbor up there and as we reach out we want to (let the community know) if they have questions we want them to ask. ... We know this will be a great thing for the community.”