Wind power the fastest-growing energy source anywhere

Published 3:40 pm Saturday, May 30, 2009

Wind power is the fastest- growing energy source in the world, and wind farms in Iowa, Minnesota and Wisconsin are leading the way.

Alliant Energy purchases emissions-free energy from more than 300 large-scale turbines at 17 wind farms across the upper Midwest. Alliant Energy also owns and operates Cedar Ridge Wind Farm, a 68 MW facility in Fond du Lac County, Wis. Construction is currently under way at Whispering Willow Wind Farm in Franklin County, Iowa. The 200 MW wind farm will be Alliant Energy’s second owned and operated wind farm. And development plans are underway for the third company-owned and operated wind farm, Bent Tree Wind Farm, in Freeborn County.

Frequently asked questions about wind power

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Why use wind power?

Wind power is a free, non-polluting, renewable resource. No matter how much is used, there will still be a plentiful supply in the future.

What is a wind farm?

Wind farms are clusters of turbines that generate electricity. Wind is a free and renewable resource that produces clean energy — no emissions, no waste products. Wind farms are located in areas with reliably favorable wind speeds.

What causes wind?

The wind that turns the turbine blades is a form of solar energy. The sun warms the earth’s atmosphere unevenly, causing the air to move and swirl, creating wind. For centuries, wind movement has been converted into mechanical power for low-tech jobs like watering cattle. Now, we can use it to efficiently turn high-tech turbines for electrical generation.

Does using wind power really make a difference for the environment?

Yes! A single utility-scale wind turbine can prevent the emission of 1,500 tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) into the atmosphere per year. It would take a 500-acre forest to dissipate the same amount of CO2 — a “greenhouse gas” that contributes to global warming.

Why does wind power cost more?

Facilities that use renewable resources to generate electricity are currently more expensive to build and operate. However, the cost of development power has decreased by 20 percent since the 1980s.

Increased customer demand for renewable energy should lead to the development of more renewable resources like wind, as well as lower prices. In addition, the federal Energy Production Tax Credit is helping utilities invest in new wind facilities.

Can I use wind power at home or work?

While power companies can’t directly send wind-generated electricity to your house or business, you can support the growth of wind power— and solar and biomass energy — through the Second Nature program .

Facts, figures about wind power

Wind power in the United States:

In 2008, the U.S. wind industry installed 8,358 megawatts of new wind energy generating capacity. That’s enough to power more than two million American homes.

According to initial estimates by the American Wind Energy Association, the new wind projects completed in 2008 account for about 42 percent of the entire new power-producing capacity added nationally last year.

— From Alliant Energy