Photo credit: Martin Boose.
In January, the National Rural Utilities Cooperative Finance Corporation (CFC) awarded the Iowa Lakes Electric Cooperative $43 million in Clean Renewable Energy Bonds (CREBs) from the Internal Revenue Service to fund the development of two wind energy projects in Northwest Iowa.
The CREB program, established by the Energy Policy Act of 2005, created a new financing tool for public power companies, including electric cooperatives, to finance renewable generation projects such as wind, biomass and other renewable facilities.
“We looked at renewable energy in 2004 before the CREB program,” said Terry Bruns, president/CEO of Iowa Lakes. “Last year, when we updated our wind study, the CREB program made the difference. If the CREB application wasn’t successful, we were not going to go forward – it was a make or break situation.”
The two proposed wind projects would each consist of five to seven turbines producing approximately 10.5-12.5 megawatts and totaling an annual energy production of approximately 74 million kilowatt hours -- enough electricity generated to power over 4,000 Iowa Lakes’ member-owner homes annually.
Through Basin Electric Cooperative in Bismarck, North Dakota, Iowa Lakes has been able to secure fourteen General Electric 1.5 mw turbines set to arrive late in 2008, with construction to be completed by second quarter 2009.
Iowa Lakes Electric Cooperative will own and operate the two wind generation facilities and Corn Belt Power Cooperative will purchase and receive all of the nameplate capacity and electricity generated from the wind turbines.
With Iowa Lakes’ service territory located in the windiest part of Iowa, the Cooperative would be the first electric distribution cooperative in the United States to develop and own two wind turbine farms of this size and magnitude.
“Wind energy has seen significant improvements in operating efficiency over the last few years, and this project will add to Iowa Lakes’ environmental responsibility goals,” said L. Kirby Range, Iowa Lakes Electric Cooperative’s Board Chair.
“This is a significant financial investment by Iowa Lakes Electric Cooperative in order to support the growth of renewable energy, and Iowa Lakes’ Board of Directors are confident in the Cooperative’s leadership role to support renewable energy and we feel our wind projects will be a win-win project for both our member-owners and also Iowa’s environment,” said Bruns.