Big Push for Wind as Rural Iowa Economic Development
Wednesday, September 6, 2023
Green energy advocates are pushing wind power as an economic development tool in rural America.
Iowa is among the nation's leaders in wind energy and continues to expand its capacity.
Merlin Bartz, former Worth County Supervisor and a wind energy advocate, works with the Clean Grid Alliance to educate people about renewable power. He advocates for wind power as a way for Iowa's small towns and counties to boost local revenue, diversify the economy and broaden the tax base.
He pointed out in Worth County, for instance, nearly 300 wind turbines generate not just power, but more than $172 million for the local economy.
"And particularly in a county like Worth, with only 7,500 people and one of the smallest geographic counties in the state, that's enormous," Bartz emphasized. "That revenue generated enough money to be approximately 17% to 20% of the county's budget."
Critics of wind turbines have argued they are limited to certain geographical areas and weather conditions, could threaten wildlife, and cause shadow flicker. They also say dotting Iowa's open spaces with wind turbines can be an eyesore and lead to visual and noise pollution, lowering local property values.
Bartz contended the opposite is true. He noted farmers and other landowners benefit from wind-turbine income on their land, which increases its value. On a larger scale, rural communities are well positioned to profit from green energy infrastructure, which he explained cannot happen in urban areas.
"They're not going to build a turbine farm in downtown Des Moines, or right next to the city of Des Moines," Bartz stressed. "It fits much better in rural areas where you have the open space. It's an economic development tool that's in the tool box for rural counties, so it kind of levels the playing field a little bit."
The Clean Grid Alliance pointed out the cost of installing wind power infrastructure has fallen 72% since 2009, and investments in infrastructure have increased by $25 billion. Iowa recently announced more than half of the electricity generated in the state comes from wind.
get more stories like this via email
South Dakota is once again at the center of a debate about the future of direct democracy. A legislative plan would shake up signature rules for …
More than 100,000 people voted "uncommitted" in Michigan's presidential primary. What happens next will be, at least in part, up to President Joe …
Two-thirds of those who make the public schools function in Texas say they want to leave, according to a new survey and the teachers union said …
A new report is handing out grades to states for their support of public schools and Arizona gets an "F." The Network for Public Education's "Public …
Colorado lawmakers are considering ways to address a projected $24 million funding shortfall in the Healthy School Meals for All program, and grants …
Gov. Kathy Hochul has signed new congressional maps into law. The move comes a few days after Democrats in the legislature rejected maps drawn by …
Immigrants' rights advocates are pushing back on a flurry of bills in the Iowa Legislature they said would create discriminatory policies targeting mi…
Legislation aimed at stopping U.S. adversaries from owning farmland in Indiana will be argued before the full state Senate today. Rep. Kendell Culp…