Wind blows by coal to become Iowa’s largest source of electricity

A new report from the American Wind Energy Association says wind is now the largest single source of electricity in Iowa.

According to the trade association’s Wind Powers America 2019 Annual Report, Iowa is now generating more than 10,000 megawatts of wind energy, accounting for more than 40% of the state’s electricity.

Wind became the leading source of electricity in both Iowa and Kansas this year, making them the first states to reach that benchmark. Previously, coal-fired power generation had been Iowa’s main source of electricity.

Projects in Iowa added the second-most wind power capacity of any state in 2019, behind only Texas.

The report also says Iowa is second in the nation in total wind industry jobs, with more than 9,000. The state’s total economic investment in wind energy grew by $3 billion to reach $19 billion — also second in the nation. Texas leads both categories.

A USA Today report from earlier this year noted the reliable income from wind energy can help steady farmers dealing with a turbulent economy. The AWEA report said land lease payments for Iowa wind projects reached $69 million in 2019.

But the state’s rapid investment in wind and other forms of renewable energy has prompted concern by the Iowa Farm Bureau about the loss of farmland. The organization earlier this year supported statewide regulations on where wind and solar farms can be built.

Some Iowans who live near wind farms have complained about the turbines, although researchers say there’s little evidence of health impacts.

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