Iowa has 5,708 MW of wind installed, and over 1200 MW of new wind energy is planned or under contruction. This makes Iowa the third highest in the nation, not only with installed capacity, but also in terms of wind energy penetration of in-state generation, at 27.4% in 2013.
One of the primary reasons for this high ranking is that Iowa is the headquarters of Mid-American Energy Utility. Mid-American is an investor-owned utility primarily owned by Warren Buffet, an outspoken supporter of wind energy. While state policy in Iowa has played a role in supporting wind development, it is Mid-American’s investment that has literally changed the farming landscape as well as the state’s energy landscape.
In addition to the strong industry players, Iowa has an exceptionally strong wind resource and is in a good location along the electrical grid to export electricity to eastern markets. It also enjoys high public acceptance and support from government leaders.
Iowa is already producing more electricity than the state needs. The recent and future huge growth in wind capacity means that Iowa will eventually need increased transmission lines to continue exporting its power. Nearby states are predicted to rely upon Iowa in order to meet the new federal carbon emissions regulations. These states will likely purchase Iowa’s clean energy exports to use as credits to help reach their own Clean Power Plan targets.