Wind Energy in Iowa
This podcast was produced by Polk County Conservation and funded by Resource Enhancement and Protection Conservation Education program or REAP-CEP.
Wind. Sometimes you love it, sometimes you don’t. On hot summer days, the wind can make us feel more comfortable. On the other hand, a stiff winter wind can create wind chills well below the actual temperature and make it feel downright miserable. But have you ever thought about what causes wind?
Wind is created when hot air rises, reducing the atmospheric pressure at the earth’s surface, and cool air rushes in to replace it. When air is in motion, it contains kinetic energy. This kinetic energy can be converted into mechanical or electrical energy that we can use to perform work.
Wind can be harnessed and powered into a source of renewable energy through the use of wind turbines. The electricity generated by a utility-scale wind turbine is normally collected and fed into utility power lines, where it is mixed with electricity from other power plants and delivered to utility customers. Wind power is one of the cheapest and cleanest renewable energy sources available. It doesn’t require extraction or consumption of fuel, and it doesn’t produce air pollution.
Wind power is growing in popularity. Opinion surveys regularly show that 8 out of 10 people are in favor of wind energy. Iowa based MidAmerican Energy Company is No. 1 in the nation in ownership of wind-powered electric generation among rate-regulated utilities. They have more than 1,200 megawatts of wind generating facilities in operation, under construction and under contract in Iowa. When their wind expansion projects are complete, approximately 18 percent of MidAmerican's existing electric generation capability will come from renewable resources.
If you support renewable energy, consider investing in public owned companies with wind energy interests. Many companies have green power programs you can contribute to. By purchasing a green power product, you are supporting increased development of renewable energy sources, which can reduce the burning of fossil fuels, such as coal, oil, and natural gas. Check with your local energy provider for opportunities to support green power.
Regardless of the future of renewable energy, we should all conserve the amount of energy we use. Make sure your furnace and air conditioner is running as efficiently as possible. Use compact fluorescent bulbs in your light fixtures, and have your home evaluated by a professional for energy efficiency. The next time you feel wind blowing across your face, enjoy it. It may be the energy of the future.
This podcast was funded by REAP-CEP which is a program the State of Iowa invests in to enhance and protect the state's natural and cultural resources. REAP provides money for projects through state agency budgets or in the form of grants. For more information about REAP, visit iowareap.com.