Iowa and South Dakota are first and second in the nation when it comes to getting their power from wind energy. Iowa currently gets about 27% of its energy from wind, with South Dakota nipping at its heels at 26%. For Iowa, the investment in wind energy has paid off.
Over 5,000 megawatts of installed wind capacity has brought with it 7,000 new jobs, and $16 million each year to landowners in the form of lease payments. And with another 1,000 megawatts currently under construction, Iowa seems to be in a good place to keep this success booming.
But Iowans aren’t the only ones seeing continued wind energy development. South Dakota has new projects sprouting up, due in part to improvements being made to the transmission grid. These improvements have provided a new road to market for wind energy projects in many states, and South Dakota is no exception.
One project that stands as an example of this is the Dakota Power Community Wind Project located in Lincoln County in South Dakota. Improved transmission will not only help make this project possible, but also empowers it to grow to as large as 1,000 megawatts of generation.
The project would also provide South Dakotans the opportunity to boost the wind energy they produce by 50 percent, and could deliver $6 million to landowners each year. It’s also estimated that the Dakota Power project would bring an additional $8 million in tax revenue each year to the state and county, and would create 1,000 construction jobs and 70 permanent jobs at the site of the project.
In Nebraska, our state utilities have been slow to develop and incorporate wind energy statewide. We don’t even get 10% of our energy from wind yet. But that hasn’t stopped others from taking advantage of our plentiful wind energy resources. Some communities have decided to step up and take charge, working with developers to bring more wind energy to Nebraska.
The Verdigre Land and Wind Partnership came to be after Nebraska Public Power District decided not to move forward with a project they had planned in the area. Area landowners, however, wanted to continue on with the project. That led them to seek out Windlab Developments, a Michigan-based developer that partnered with the Verdigre Landowners Association to continue the project.
Despite a slow start, Nebraskans are taking the initiative to try and catch up to our neighbors. With a few years and some hard work, we'll have a lot to celebrate alongside our neighbors.
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