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Monday, April 18, 2011

Iowa grants West Branch wind facility $3 million

Unlike Wisconsin, Iowa welcomes companies in the wind energy industry, according to this article by Dan Piller in the the Des Moises (Iowa) Register:

State grants West Branch wind facility $3 million

The Iowa Power Fund on Thursday awarded Acciona Wind Energy a $3 million grant to help finance a $19.9 million demonstration project near Mechanicsville that will show off Acciona's new three-megawatt wind energy system.

"One tower will be steel and the other concrete. We've had requests for both," said Joe Baker, president of Acciona's plant at West Branch.

The four-year-old West Branch operation makes the nacelles, or the box behind the blade that houses the gears and generation capacity.

Acciona has focused on building 1.5-megawatt wind systems, but the larger units are becoming more standard in the industry, Baker said.

MidAmerican Energy's wind farms in west-central Iowa have three-megawatt turbines.

"Within seven to 10 years most of the wind turbines will be three megawatts," he said. A megawatt of electricity can power 200 to 500 standard-sized homes.

Iowa has 3,675 megawatts of wind generation capacity, ranking second behind Texas in total capacity and first as a percentage of its total electricity generation capacity

Acciona is a century-old Spanish company with roots in construction and water treatment. The West Branch facility, opened in 2007, is its only U.S. wind equipment factory, but Acciona operates five wind farms in Illinois, South Dakota, Oklahoma, Nevada and California.

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