Wind Farm Projects Equal Economic Growth for Grundy County
On behalf of the Grundy County Development Alliance, I would like to express our support of the wind farm initiative in and around the Wellsburg and Ivester areas of Grundy County. With the upcoming public hearing on wind energy, I feel it is important to show support of the development of renewable wind energy in Grundy County that could offer many economic benefits to the residents of Grundy County.
Wind farm development in Iowa is certainly a growth industry, as evidenced by Iowa's second in the nation status for wind energy production, (behind only Texas). Iowa is blessed with an ample wind resource and accessibility to the national power grid, the "highway" on which our wind energy can be transported to the consumer.
The development and production of wind generated electricity in Iowa provides many jobs both during construction and long term operation. As a wind farm is built literally hundreds of short term jobs are created, some require specialty training and will be done by people who travel to our area, rent lodging, buy goods and services to complete their tasks and then move on to the next assignment. Other jobs will be permanent; typically one skilled and trained technician is hired for every 10 wind turbines. These technicians are generally young, recent graduates from one of the wind technician programs offered at several of Iowa's excellent community colleges. These young technicians usually move to the community and often buy homes, put down roots and raise their families. Those paychecks circulate through the community by way of the grocery stores, car dealers, and other goods and service providers.
The landowners who have chosen to be part of the wind farm are paid for the use of their ground for construction of the turbines and clear access to the wind. Those payments are a contractual agreement between the wind farm and the landowner. These annual payments to landowners also can be expected to circulate through the community in the form of goods and services purchased.
Beyond the payments made to workers and landowners there is a definite benefit to all the residents of Grundy County. The wind turbines are taxable industrial property. Even though there are certain tax incentives offered to wind farms by the State and County, the taxable value for just the first phase of the first wind farm to apply in Grundy County will be in excess of $54 million as estimated by the county auditor. The annual property tax stream generated by that valuation will be approximately $1,389,000 based on current tax rates when fully implemented. That represents over a million dollars a year to the taxing bodies of the county to improve the services and infrastructure available to our citizens.
I understand the opposition and supportive points of wind energy, but feel it will greatly impact Grundy County and the region we belong to. More jobs, an increase in population, an increase in school enrollments, possible new business opportunities and/or expansions, and the better view the county might have on larger manufacturers and industries looking to relocate all could be attributed to the progression of these wind projects. Being a small and rural county, I believe we cannot squash any positive growth no matter how large or small the project might be.
If you agree the wind energy initiative will be a positive project for Grundy County, I along with many other supporters, invite you to attend the Grundy County Board of Supervisors public hearing on Monday, July 12 at 9 a.m. in the third floor courtroom of the Grundy County Courthouse.
Kelly Riskedahl, Executive Director Grundy County Development Alliance