Mammoth $200 Million Wind Farm Proposed in Iowa

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Northern Iowa could have one of the nation's largest wind farms by 2008. Iowa Winds LLC wants to build a 200- to 300-megawatt farm covering about 40,000 acres in Franklin County.

A county zoning board will consider approving permits for the $200 million project next month.

"It's something new and renewable," said Amber Schwarck, a spokeswoman for the Iowa Falls-based company. "It's great for national security, so we can start depending on ourselves and the wind."

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Iowa ranks third in the nation in wind energy behind Texas and California, according to the American Wind Energy Association. The Franklin County Wind Farm would help Iowa keep pace with those states and create 30 to 40 technical jobs maintaining turbines, said Schwarck. A pay scale was unavailable.

Company officials said the farm could be the nation's largest — depending on the permits and the county's power grid infrastructure. The project would be built near Bradford and involve 193 landowners in the townships of Grant, Hamilton, Ingham, Lee, Morgan, Oakland and Reeves.

If the county approves the project, construction would start next spring and take about a year, said Franklin County Supervisor Michael Nolte.

"It's not very often you have someone who wants to make a $200 million investment in the county," he said. "That's a huge investment. It's just a win-win for the county."

Schwarck said Iowa Winds has conducted meteorological studies in southern Franklin County since the company was formed in 2002. The project would be its first wind farm.

Iowa has nearly 900 wind turbines capable of producing 836 megawatts of electricity, enough to power about 226,000 average homes, according to the American Wind Energy Association. Planned projects — besides the Franklin County farm — would add 120 turbines capable of generating an additional 249 megawatts of electricity, the group said.

Texas leads the nation with 2,400 megawatts of wind energy installed and California has 2,323 megawatts.

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