Wind Powering Iowa State Fair

John Davis

Iowa State Fair wind turbineUsually, when you see the big wheel at the fairgrounds, it’s carrying people to dizzying heights with bright colored lights. But this year, the Iowa State Fair has another big wheel… this time, powering all those rides.

MidAmerican Energy has put up a 133-foot wind turbine at the fair’s Wind Energy Education Center. This article in Wallace’s Farmer says it will supply a quarter of the energy for the fair:

MidAmerican Energy logo“The State Fair is traditionally a place where Iowans have come to see and learn about something for the first time,” says Allan Urlis, spokesman for MidAmerican. “Wind power is an important technology to the future of Iowa.” A temporary education center will stand next to the turbine during the 2007 fair. A more permanent structure is planned in the future.

Since 2003, Iowa has become third in the nation in wind energy generation behind Texas and California.

The turbine at the fairgrounds is half the size of MidAmerican’s 323 wind farm turbines now in operation in parts of northern and western Iowa. Nonetheless, the turbine will generate the equivalent of nearly one quarter of the fair’s annual electricity needs, or roughly the amount of energy needed to power the entire fairgrounds, including the Midway rides—during the fair.

Wind energy is on the rise in the Hawkeye State. Last month, the Iowa Utilities Board approved six new wind farm locations expected to add 540 megawatts of wind energy by the end of next year. Iowa’s total wind energy production will be up to 1,000 megawatts, enough to light up 336,000 homes.