Iowa wind farms supported by
USDA Renewable Energy Program

SDA Rural Development’s Section 9006 Renewable Energy Systems loan and grant program is helping to finance wind power projects throughout the nation, including two new wind farms which recently began operating in Iowa.

The Crosswind Energy wind farm near Ruthven, Iowa, is composed of 10 two-megawatt (MW) turbines, each of which is owned by an LLC that represents partnerships between 10 Iowa producers and California-based Edison Mission Energy. Edison’s involvement will be phased out after 10 years of operating the turbines, which are estimated to have a 25-year lifespan.

The 21 MW of power generated by the wind farm is being sold to Cornbelt Power Cooperative in Humboldt, Iowa.

The project was made possible, in part, by $250,000 in Section 9006 guaranteed loan funds, $302,125 in USDA Value-Added Producer Grant technical assistance funds, and $2.3 million in Section 9006 grants. During the past four years, USDA Rural Development has awarded $6.6 million in guaranteed loans and grants to 37 large wind energy projects in Iowa.

The Hardin Hilltop Wind Farm, northwest of Jefferson, Iowa, in Greene County, is another example of how the 9006 program is being used to promote wind power. USDA Rural Development provided $1.7 million in grants to the producers and individuals who developed this seven-turbine wind farm. Edison Mission Energy has also invested in this wind project.

Interstate Power and Light Co. (IPL), a subsidiary of Alliant Energy Corporation, will purchase the 16 MW of renewable energy generated by the Hardin Hilltop project, which began commercial operations in May.

Each of the investors owns a single wind turbine, which can generate more than two MW. IPL is eligible to receive the Iowa small renewable tax credit.

Iowa college trains wind

Maintenance and monitoring work at both wind farms will be done by graduates of the wind energy program at Iowa Lakes Community College. The two-year, college-level program is believed to the first of its kind in the nation

The college recently held a ribbon cutting to open a $1.7 million addition to its Sustainable Energy Education Center in Estherville, which houses the Wind Energy and Turbine Technology program. The program opened with 15 students three years ago but had grown to 66 wind energy students by this fall.

“This one-of-a-kind program is giving students the skills and knowledge necessary to not only operate and maintain wind turbines throughout the state, but to keep Iowa on the forefront of the renewable energy frontier,” Iowa Governor Chet Culver said in a letter read at the event in October.

PPM Energy provided a gift of $100,000 to support the college’s wind program. “With PPM’s aggressive growth plans — and each new wind farm needing skilled, safety-conscious workers — strong training programs are essential to meeting our future staffing needs,” said Kevin Devlin, vice president of PPM Energy.

How 9006 program works
“The Section 9006 program was created in the 2002 Farm Bill for financing both renewable energy and energy efficiency projects,” Mark Reisinger, USDA Rural Development state director for Iowa, said while speaking at the ribbon-cutting ceremony for the Crosswinds project last summer. He explained that a grant can be made for up to 25 percent of total eligible costs for a project, with a maximum of $500,000 for a renewable energy project and a maximum of $250,000 for an energy efficiency project.

A guaranteed loan under the 9006 program can be made for up to 50 percent of total eligible costs up to a maximum of $10 million. A combination grant and guaranteed loan can be made for up to 50 percent of total eligible costs.

“This program helps rural businesses or agricultural producers develop renewable energy or make energysaving improvements to their facilities or farms,” says Reisinger. Information, applications, forms, and other tools regarding the energy program can be found at:

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