Why Is Wind Energy Best For Iowa?

Why is wind energy best for Iowa?

Wind energy has emerged as an important renewable energy source for Iowa. With its vast open plains and strong wind resources, Iowa is ideally situated to harness wind power. In recent years, wind energy in Iowa has seen dramatic growth, bringing with it significant economic, environmental, and energy benefits for the state.

Iowa currently leads the nation in the proportion of its electricity generated from wind. Over 40% of the state’s electrical power comes from wind energy. Iowa has an abundance of wind resources, with average wind speeds of over 17 mph across the state. As wind energy continues to expand, it is bringing jobs and cleaner energy to the state while supporting Iowa’s economy. Understanding the advantages of wind power demonstrates why wind energy is the right choice to meet Iowa’s future energy needs.

Wind Energy is Plentiful in Iowa

Iowa has some of the best wind resources in the U.S., ranking 3rd in the nation for wind energy potential. According to the American Wind Energy Association, Iowa has the potential to generate over 570,000 GWh of electricity per year using onshore wind turbines (https://www.awea.org/Awea/media/Resources/StateFactSheets/Iowa.pdf). The state’s central location in the heart of the Great Plains gives it access to fast, steady winds coming predominantly from the north and northwest. In particular, northern and western Iowa see average wind speeds of over 7 meters per second at a height of 80 meters, making it an ideal region for wind energy generation (1). With vast, flat, open terrain and limited forestation, Iowa’s geography lends itself perfectly to large-scale wind farms.

Wind Turbines Create Jobs

The wind energy industry has created numerous jobs in Iowa, especially for wind turbine technicians who are in high demand. According to ZipRecruiter, there are currently over 200 open jobs for wind technicians in the state of Iowa [1]. Major wind turbine manufacturers like Siemens Gamesa and Vestas have facilities in Iowa that employ technicians to service and maintain turbines. There are also many open positions at wind farms across the state for technicians to carry out regular maintenance and repairs.

Wind turbine technician is one of the fastest growing occupations in the U.S. as the number of wind farms continues to expand. These technicians are highly skilled workers who install, inspect, maintain, and repair wind turbines. The median salary for wind turbine technicians in Iowa is over $52,000 per year according to Indeed job listings [2]. With Iowa’s abundant wind resources and increasing wind capacity, the job outlook for wind turbine technicians in the state remains very strong.

Wind Energy is Affordable

The cost of wind power has declined significantly in recent years, making it one of the most affordable energy sources. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, the average levelized cost of land-based wind power fell by 71% between 2009 and 2020[1]. In Iowa specifically, wind power is now cheaper than coal. A 2021 report from the Iowa Environmental Council states that wind energy costs $28-46 per megawatt-hour, while coal costs $46-75 per megawatt-hour[2]. This cost advantage makes wind an affordable way to meet Iowa’s energy needs while also providing environmental benefits.

Wind Energy is Reliable

Modern wind turbines in Iowa operate at high capacity factors, meaning they reliably generate electricity whenever the wind is blowing. According to the U.S. Department of Energy’s WINDExchange, Iowa has excellent wind resources capable of capacity factors over 40% at standard turbine hub heights.

Specifically, WINDExchange data shows Iowa could support average capacity factors of 42% at 80 meter hub heights, 47% at 110 meter hub heights, and 49% at 140 meter hub heights [1]. These high capacity factors demonstrate that Iowa’s wind resource is consistent and reliable for power generation.

By investing in modern turbine technology, Iowa wind farms have increased average statewide capacity factors from less than 30% a decade ago to around 35% today [2]. So wind power’s reliability continues to improve with new turbines designed for Iowa’s wind resource.

Overall, wind energy is a stable, dependable power source for Iowa’s electric grid and homes and businesses. The plentiful winds across the state mean wind turbines can reliably generate electricity day and night.

Wind Energy is Sustainable

One of the biggest advantages of wind energy is its sustainability. Wind is a renewable energy source that will never run out. Harnessing the wind to generate electricity produces no emissions or pollution. According to the Energy Information Administration, wind power generation produces no greenhouse gas emissions during operation. In contrast, fossil fuel power plants emit carbon dioxide, sulfur dioxide, nitrous oxides, and other pollutants that contribute to climate change, acid rain, smog, and health issues.

The Union of Concerned Scientists notes that wind turbines have one of the lowest global warming emissions of any energy technology. Over its lifespan, a wind turbine offsets 15 times more emissions than were generated during its manufacture and installation. Wind energy helps reduce dependence on fossil fuels, improves public health by cutting pollution, and mitigates the effects of climate change.

Overall, wind energy is one of the most environmentally sustainable ways to generate electricity. The renewable nature and zero emissions make wind power a green solution for Iowa’s energy needs.

Wind Energy Supports the Local Economy

One of the biggest benefits of wind energy for Iowa is the income it provides for local landowners and farmers. Wind turbines require large areas of land to operate efficiently. Energy companies make annual lease payments to landowners to site wind turbines on their property. According to the American Clean Power Association, wind farms pay more than $68 million in lease payments to Iowa landowners annually.1 For farmers, these lease payments provide a stable source of income that supplements revenue from crops and livestock.

MidAmerican Energy, Iowa’s largest energy provider, has invested over $13 billion in wind projects in the state. In 2022 alone, they paid approximately $41.4 million in landowner easement and lease payments.2 With over 4,300 landowners partnered with MidAmerican, wind energy lease payments support farmers and rural communities across Iowa.

Wind energy lease payments are especially impactful for younger generations of farmers looking to get established. The extra income allows them to invest in equipment and make improvements to stay competitive. It also helps offset volatility in commodity prices year to year. Wind energy helps keep family farms financially sustainable for the next generation.

Wind Energy Diversifies Iowa’s Energy Mix

Relying too heavily on any single energy source puts a state at risk if there are disruptions to that resource. Iowa has historically generated the majority of its electricity from coal-fired power plants. However, coal plants are increasingly being retired due to age and environmental regulations. This has left Iowa vulnerable to overreliance on natural gas.

Wind energy provides a clean, renewable way to diversify Iowa’s electricity mix so that the state is not dependent solely on fossil fuels like coal and natural gas. In 2022, wind turbines generated over 60% of Iowa’s electricity, up from under 20% just a decade earlier [1]. This rapid growth in wind power means Iowa can meet electricity demand even if there are disruptions to coal or natural gas supplies.

A diverse energy portfolio with ample wind energy protects Iowa consumers against fuel price spikes. It also provides long-term price stability. As wind and solar costs have fallen dramatically, renewable energy is now one of the most affordable sources of new electricity generation. Using free wind and solar resources offsets the need for expensive natural gas, benefitting Iowa through lower electricity bills.

Iowa Has Excellent Wind Resources

Iowa is one of the windiest states in the U.S., with high wind resource potential found across the state. According to Choose Energy, Iowa ranks 3rd for installed wind energy capacity with over 8,400 MW [1]. The windiest parts of Iowa are in the north and northwest, but sufficient wind speeds are still found across much of the state. In particular, the windiest areas include Palo Alto and Kossuth counties in north central Iowa as well as Lyon county in northwest Iowa, with average wind speeds regularly exceeding 20 mph [1]. Overall, Iowa is estimated to have the potential to generate over 570,000 MW of electricity from wind power.

Other top windy states in the Midwest include North Dakota, South Dakota, Minnesota, and Kansas. However, Iowa stands out for having exceptional onshore wind resources across a large geographic area, enabling substantial wind farm development. With its ideal location in the heart of the wind belt and policies supportive of renewable energy growth, Iowa is poised to continue expanding its wind energy portfolio and maintaining a national leadership position in wind power generation.


Wind energy is clearly the right choice for Iowa’s energy future. Wind power creates good-paying, local jobs that cannot be outsourced. The cost of wind energy continues to decline, making it highly affordable and economical. Wind turbines produce no emissions, protecting our health and environment. And wind energy strengthens local economies and creates energy independence for our state.

With Iowa’s abundant wind resources, expanding wind power is simply a win-win. Wind energy diversifies our energy portfolio with homegrown and pollution-free electricity. This clean, renewable source of power will provide jobs, improve public health, reduce electricity prices, and spur local economic development for generations to come. The benefits of wind energy make it the smartest choice to meet Iowa’s energy needs now and into the future.

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