Renewable energy is probably one of, if not the, most important parts of being able to live off grid. Providing your own power is most easily achieved through renewable sources such as solar or wind and while that is something many individuals are doing, states in the U.S. have been slower to utilize these easily available resources in general. Sure, there are wind farms and solar farms across the nation, but they usually only provide a fraction of the overall energy needs of any one state. Well, Iowa is on the verge of changing that, and they are using wind to make that shift. With the approval for one thousand new wind turbines by the end of 2019, MidAmerican Energy is now well on their way to their goal of supplying 100% of their energy to the state of Iowa via renewable.
Anyone who has had the luck, or misfortune depending on how you look at it, of driving across Iowa, has probably seen the fields of giant windmills that already dot the landscape there. It is probably no surprise that they are already 2nd among all states in terms of their energy from renewable sources, with 31% of their energy coming from renewable sources. The terrain, which is mostly open and flat, seems to be great for the utilization of wind turbines since there is very little to block the flow of wind from being able to drive them.
This new plan that the state has approved, will create 1,000 new wind turbines, which could be capable of providing up to 85% of all MidAmerican’s energy to their Iowa customers by 2020. They are already generating close to 50% of their energy in Iowa from wind, and with a 3.6 billion dollar plan approved by the Iowa Utilities board, their goals are well within reach.
While individuals who use wind to help power their off-grid homesteads, are more accustomed to relatively small windmills or other turbine designs that help maximize power output on their available space, the turbines approved for the MidAmerican project, called Wind XI, are anything but modest, standing an impressive 379 feet in height. These new turbines, combined with their previous projects already in place, will go a long way in helping Iowa become a leader in wind generated power in the U.S. Their projects from 2004 through 2010 already produce more than 1,200 megawatts of wind power in the state through several counties and they are nearing completion of other projects that will add up to an additional 552 megawatts by the end of the year.
Wind isn’t the only renewable that MidAmerican is invested in, they investing in, and pursuing, solar power as well, and although they are originally a more traditional energy company, they have been moving more and more towards renewable in the last several years. Hopefully more energy companies will follow their lead and move away from fossil fuels and start taking advantage of the renewable energy sources that we have in abundance throughout most of the country. While many homesteaders and off-grid individuals have been living a greener and more sustainable lifestyle for decades, the major power companies have typically been much slower to adopt these same approaches. It is well past time that they started to catch up to what many in the off-grid community have known for years, and that renewable energy can be cheaper to produce, easier to obtain, and has less of a negative impact on our surrounding environment, which is beneficial to everyone.