A new report detailing the benefits of wind energy for Iowa consumers – both corporate and residential – shows that adding 10 GW of wind over the next 25 years could save state ratepayers $12.6 billion.
In addition, the average industrial consumer would, on net, save about $825,000 on electric bills, and the average resident household would save about $3,200 over that period if its electricity needs were met with wind energy.
The report models the electricity rate impacts of doubling the currently operating and planned wind power production in the state. As a national leader in wind energy production, the report says, Iowa could find even larger consumer savings with further expansion of wind power.
“Wind energy investments in Iowa have been a significant driver in attracting advanced manufacturing companies and data centers to our state,” said Jay Byers, CEO of the Greater Des Moines Partnership. “Iowa’s expanding wind energy portfolio and commitment to renewable energy is also an important factor in recruiting and retaining top talent.”
According to the analysis, Iowa generated 31.3% of its electricity from wind last year while maintaining consumer costs below the national average.
The report also details how Iowa consumers benefited from existing wind last year: In 2015, existing Iowa wind provided more than $500 million in gross benefits (or $28 for each MWh).
The report also finds that wind energy is expected to become an even better investment over time as other fuels are projected to increase in price, according to data from the U.S. Department of Energy. Wind energy costs are largely fixed for the life of the project and can even decrease due to inflation, the report explains, while traditional fuels such as natural gas are expected to increase in cost.
In addition to consumer savings, wind energy also creates jobs and provides economic development opportunities to the state, the report adds. Specifically, more than 6,000 people are directly employed in the wind industry, and Iowa landowners receive more than $17 million annually in land lease payments.
“Wind is an integral part of our energy portfolio that helps us keep energy prices stable and affordable over the long term,” comments Kathryn Kunert, vice president of economic connections and integration at MidAmerican Energy. “Our rates today are the ninth lowest nationally – about 36 percent below the national average. With our 100 percent renewable energy goal, we look forward to Wind XI, our largest wind project to date, that will be built without a rate increase to consumers or assistance from the state.”
“I have spoken with county leaders across the state of Iowa that have witnessed firsthand the positive effects of wind energy in their counties,” added John Boorman, vice president of the Iowa Wind Energy Association. “Whether the money helps to build roads or bridges, enhance local schools, or pay off bonds used to improve infrastructure, the added revenue from wind energy has been instrumental to the health of their communities.”