Clay County Fair highlights wind energy

Tuesday, September 11, 2012
The Iowa Wind Energy Day at the Clay County Fair on Sunday received a good turnout. Fairgoers visited vendors who provide wind farms, as well as vendors who distribute the harvested wind energy and educate children on the process behind wind energy. (Photo by Kate Padilla)

Though there wasn't much wind at the fair on Sunday, fairgoers and vendors gathered at the fair's Central Park to celebrate wind energy.

The vendors ranged from wind farms, such as NextEra and EDP Renewables, to distribution companies and even education resource companies.

NextEra is the largest owned-and-operated wind farm company in the continental United States. They have been operating wind farms in Iowa since 1999, and currently operate nine wind farms in the state, ranging in size from 55 turbines to 148 turbines per farm.

"It's been fun to come out and talk to people who don't spend their days around turbines," said Mike Barrios, general manager of NextEra's Midwest operations. "You get more interesting questions."

EDP Renewables also operates wind farms in the area, though on a smaller and more independent level. They are based just outside of Milford, though they have offices all over the country.

"The response we get from this area is very positive," said Chris Mugge, lead operations manager. "People here are used to seeing wind used as an alternative form of energy. Some people in other parts of the country have never seen a wind turbine."

"We've found that many farmers don't mind having turbines on their property," said Adam Renz, an external communications associate based in Houston, Texas. "The land is still highly usable."

Once the energy is harvested from wind farms, companies like Clean Line are able to distribute it to other parts of the state and country. Currently, Clean Line is working on their Rock Island line to Morris, Illinois.

Clean Line is also partnering with Northwest Iowa Community College to train electrical students for their company.

"On the distribution side, many of the electrical tasks required are similar to electrical work that our students would be doing at other jobs," Lisa Story, director of enrollment, said.

NCC's power line program, a one-year program that accepts 72 students each year, is backlisted until summer 2014.

In order to entice children and students into studying wind energy, companies like The KidWind Project provide hands-on experiments for children to learn the process involved in creating energy from wind.

"The experiments teach the basics of electricity," James Grimm, a product development engineer for The KidWind Project, said. "Our goal is to educate children."

The KidWind Project has experiments appropriate for students from as young as fourth grade all the way through college.

Respond to this story

Posting a comment requires free registration: