Iowa: Growing More Than Corn

Iowa Farm Scene

Announcement of $1.9 billion investment in additional wind turbine capacity is a windfall for Iowa.

Published on: May 13, 2013

But unlike those two fertilizer plant projects, this wind energy generation project will receive no state incentives. MidAmerican Energy officials say the company is not seeking state assistance for the project, but it will receive federal wind production tax credits. Fehrman says the one-year extension of the federal tax credits helped them decide to go ahead with the project. "Without that, the environment for doing projects of this magnitude would not be possible," he said at the press conference.

Tremendous deal for farmers and the tax base of rural counties where the wind farms are located

The company expects to pay landowners $3.2 million annually for the rights to use their land for the turbines, and to generate more than $360 million in additional property tax revenues over the next 30 years. "This is a tremendous deal for farmers and the tax base of these rural counties," Branstad said.

In January 2013 Congress voted to extend the federal production tax credit until the end of the year, making projects that begin construction this year eligible. Projects completed in 2014 are eligible, too, as long as they start in 2013.

The wind energy tax credit was an issue in the 2012 presidential campaign, and possibly helped President Barack Obama to his five-point win in Iowa in the election last November. Republican Mitt Romney said he'd end the tax credit, arguing that the U.S. should have a level playing field on which all sources of energy compete on their own merits. Obama warned that killing the tax credit would cost thousands of jobs in the wind industry; there are an estimated 6,000 wind industry jobs in Iowa. Leaders in Iowa, including Republican Gov. Branstad and the entire Iowa congressional delegation, sided with Obama, promoting the federal tax credit of 2.2 cents per kilowatt hour as a vital economic development tool.

Wind energy comes from local farms, produces electrical power for local consumers, and adds value to local communities

Commenting on MidAmerican Energy's announcement last week that it plans to seek authority to add up to 1,050 megawatts of wind generation in Iowa by year-end 2015, Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa said, "Continued investment in wind-energy production emphasizes the value and success of the federal production tax credit. Wind energy has proven that it's a force in America's energy supply, providing clean, renewable, homegrown power. Wind energy comes from local farms, it's for local customers and, most often it adds investment value to local communities."