Iowa Utility Association

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Industry Issues

Industry Issues

Regulatory Environmental Cyber Security Stray Voltage Franchise Fees Wind



Check this page for a recap on energy industry-related issues debated during the session. Visit the Iowa Legislature at for further session information and, when the legislature is in session, live video/audio of the House and Senate.
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Like other investor-owned electric and gas energy utilities in the United States, IUA member companies of Alliant Energy, Black Hills Energy, MidAmerican Energy, ITC Midwest, Liberty Utilities and NextEra Energy Duane Arnold are highly regulated at the federal and state levels. That’s why it is important to have both federal and state-sponsored associations work to represent shareholder-owned utilities at all levels of government. Laws, politicians, environmental factors and technological advances are constantly changing, and so utilities and their partners must continually adapt and advocate for the interests of their shareholders and their customers.


At the federal level, Edison Electric Institute (EEI) “works to ensure favorable regulatory outcomes at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), the Department of Energy (DOE), and other federal agencies.” Visit EEI’s Federal Regulation page.

The American Gas Association “advocates on behalf of its member natural gas distribution utilities before Federal agencies in the area of energy market regulation. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) regulates wholesales sales, transportation and storage of natural gas in interstate commerce.” Visit AGA’s Federal Regulatory Issues & Advocacy page.



The Iowa Utilities Board (IUB) regulates rates and services of IUA member companies (electric and natural gas utilities). In addition, “the Board has the authority to resolve complaints, enforce safety and engineering standards, approve plans for energy efficiency programs, approve plans for recovery of costs to control emissions from generating facilities, oversee affiliate transactions, and review proposals for reorganization.” Visit the jurisdiction and regulatory authority page of the Iowa Utilities Board.

For Electric and Natural Gas Service Provided by Rate Regulated, Municipal and Electric Cooperative Utilities.

MARCH 20, 2014

The IUB issued its formal inquiry (NOI-2014-0003) into bill bill payment agreements for electric and natural gas service provided by rate regulated, municipal and electric cooperative utilities. The Order Initiating Inquiry into Bill Payment Agreements for Electric and Natural Gas Service asks utilities for information and residential customer data from November 1, 2013 – May 1, 2014. The response deadline was June 1, 2014.

September 4, 2015

Iowa Utilities Board (IUB) issues Order Addressing Issues Raised in Inquiry related to the application of the statute of limitations to debts owed by customers for natural gas and electric service and board jurisdiction over municipal level payment plans (Docket No. NOI-2014-0004)

March 30, 2015

Iowa Utilities Board (IUB) issues Order Providing Agenda for Workshop — the agenda for the workshop announced by the IUB in its March 5, 2015 Order Scheduling Workshop for Docket Title “Application of the Statute of Limitations to Debts Owed by Customers for Natural Gas and Electric Service and Board Jurisdiction Over Municipal Level Payment Plans” (Docket No. NOI-2014-0004)

MARCH 5, 2015

Iowa Utilities Board (IUB) issues Order Scheduling Workshop for Docket Title “Application of the Statute of Limitations to Debts Owed by Customers for Natural Gas and Electric Service and Board Jurisdiction Over Municipal Level Payment Plans” (Docket No. NOI-2014-0004). Also issued is a Gold Memo Regarding Comment Summary and Recommendation for Workshop.

DECEMBER 3, 2014

The IUB issued an “Order Initiating Inquiry into Application of the Statute of Limitations to Debts Owed by Customers for Natural Gas and Electric Service and Board Jurisdiction Over Municipal Level Payment Plans” (NOI-2014-0004). The same day, the Board also posted on its website a “Gold Memo Regarding Recommendation to Open New Inquiry.”

AUGUST 6, 2014

The IUB issued an Order Addressing Responses to Payment Agreement Inquiry and Establishing Date for Responses (NOI-2014-0003). This second order is a follow-up to the Board’s March 20 Order Initiating Inquiry into Bill Payment Agreements for Electric and Natural Gas Service asking utilities for information and residential customer data from November 1, 2013 – May 1, 2014. The same day, the Board also posted on its website a Gold Memo Regarding Summary of Responses to Board Order and Recommendation.


Iowa’s utilities are committed to complying with all environmental laws and regulations. The companies work responsibly to promote a clean and healthy environment that improves the quality of life for all their customers. Iowa’s emissions from electric generating plants are decreasing as the companies install new emission reduction measures and bring on-line generating plants with lower emissions. Additionally, Iowa’s investor-owned utilities are utilizing more renewable energy resources and continue to promote effective energy efficiency initiatives.

We encourage you to visit these IUA member company websites for more information on each company’s environmental activities:

ALLIANT ENERGY: Alliant Energy Environmental Report: Published November 2012 | Emission Control Projects | Coal Ash Reclamation | Land & Wildlife
Alliant Energy’s Corporate Environmental Commitment: “The way we do business at Alliant Energy shows we are committed to a clean, safe and healthy environment. Alliant Energy is committed to complying with all environmental laws and regulations. We must integrate environmental requirements into all planning, decision-making, construction, and operating and maintenance activities we perform. Employees must conduct work in a manner demonstrating Alliant Energy’s concern for preserving natural resources and protecting wildlife – acting in accordance with our Core Value of Responsibility.”

BLACK HILLS ENERGY: Energy & the Environment | Environmental Policy Statement |Alternative Fuel Vehicles | Legislation | Power of Trees program
“We’re committed to providing safe, reliable and affordable energy in a way that protects the environment and the interests of our customers, shareholders and employees. That’s the way we’ve been doing business for 130 years, and that’s how we’ll continue doing so for the next 130.”

MIDAMERICAN ENERGY COMPANY: Environmental RESPECT Policy | Our Community | Our Concerns | Electric Vehicle Basics | Renewable Energy
“Concern for the environment is a core value for all employees of the MidAmerican Energy Holdings Company. We are a growth oriented, financially strong and diverse global organization made up of several operating companies, each with its own strengths. The philosophy of Environmental RESPECT is a common thread that weaves these companies together to protect and preserve the environment.” – Cathy S. Woolums, senior vice president, Environmental Services

You are invited to visit the Edison Electric Institute’s (EEI) environmental issues and policy page for more information on the following environmental issues:

Clean Air. Learn about the progress electric companies have made to clean the air.
Climate. Read about our industry’s voluntary actions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Land. Keep up-to-date on the latest issues affecting our lands and wildlife.
Water. Find out about recent EPA rulemakings regulating our nation’s water.

You are also invited to visit the American Gas Association’s (AGA) environment issues page for more information on similar environmental issues as described above.

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

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The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently set new rules for carbon emissions from new power plants and also set new carbon emissions rules for existing power plants. These new rules, commonly referred to as the Clean Power Plan, fall under Section 111 of the Clean Air Act.

Iowa’s investor-owned utilities continue to review the draft rules to determine their potential impact on cost and electric rates for customers.


The EPA offers an overview presentation of Section 111 of the Clean Air Act and how it relates to carbon pollutant standards for existing power plants:



Recent Activity in Iowa and in the U.S. Regarding the Clean Power Plan

FEBRUARY 9, 2016

The United States Supreme Court in a 5-4 decision halted the enforcement of President Barack Obama’s Clean Power Plan until after the legal appeals process plays out in court. The Associated Press (AP) published an article on the decision and stated the decision “signaled that opponents made strong arguments against the rules.” The plans opponents, which included a coalition of 27 states and other industry representatives, “had to convince the justices that there was a ‘fair prospect’ the court might strike down the rule.”The high court “also had to consider whether denying a stay would cause irreparable harm to the states and utility companies affected.” The high court’s decision suggests the Clean Power Plan opponents made a strong enough case. The EPA is of course disappointed in the temporary freeze of its plan.

It is likely the legal fight in the appeals court process could extend into 2017, the AP projected.

JANUARY 7, 2015

EPA announced it has delayed when it will finalize rules relating to CO2 emissions for new, existing and modified and reconstructed power plants. Regarding the proposed standards for new power plants under Section 111(b) of the Clean Air Act, EPA expects to finalize the rule by mid-summer 2015. EPA’s proposed Clean Power Plan for existing power plants under Section 111(d) of the Clean Air Act also will be finalized by mid-summer 2015. EPA’s CO2 emission limits for modified and reconstructed power plants, issued under Section 111(d) of the Clean Air Act, also will be finalized mid-summer 2015.

Additionally, EPA announces it will begin developing a federal plan proposal to meet state CO2 emissions goals for existing power plans; EPA expects to propose the federal plan in mid-summer 2015 and make it available for public review and comment. Before then, EPA has indicated it will conduct additional stakeholder outreach to help develop the federal plan, which is for states that do not submit their own implementation plan.

SEPTEMBER 19, 2014
111(d) IOWA STAKEHOLDERS MEETING #2 | Stakeholders Share Preliminary Comments

The Iowa Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) and the Iowa Utilities Board (IUB) at the IUB offices co-hosted the second meeting of interested stakeholders to address EPA’s proposed rule for reducing CO2 emissions from existing sources under Section 111(d) of the Clean Air Act (see IDNR’s Carbon Pollution Standards page). Over 50 individuals from utilities, business, agencies, organizations and environmental groups took most of the afternoon to present their initial thoughts on the comments they expect to formally file with EPA on or before December 1. Each stakeholder had approximately 15 minutes’ floor time. Stakeholders also offered many comments on the important elements that should be included in an “Iowa Plan” for compliance.

Entities on the agenda that offered their perspectives included the following: Iowa Association of Municipal Utilities (IAMU); National Resources Defense Council (NRDC); Cedar Falls Municipal Utilities (CFU); Missouri River Energy Services; Iowa Environmental Council (IEC) and the Environmental Law Policy Center (ELPC); Muscatine Power and Water; Alliant Energy; and Iowa Wind Energy Association (IWEA).

At the conclusion of the meeting, the IUB and IDNR said they were not expecting another similar stakeholder input meeting until the EPA issues it final rule next June.

SEPTEMBER 16, 2014

The EPA today announced a 45-day extension of the public comment period on the proposed guidelines for reducing carbon pollution emissions from existing sources (electric generating units) under section 111(d) of the Clean Air Act. Now, comments on the Clean Power Plan Proposed Rule must be received by December 1, 2014. View the official action in the September 25, 2014 Federal Register.

The originally EPA-established deadline had been October 16, 2014, or what would have been a total of 120 days made available for public comments. However, a recent letter from 53 U.S. Senators, including Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), and others within the industry helped to sway the EPA to provide a 45-day extension. This allows the public a total of 165 days to comment.

The Senators and others had requested a 60-day extension beyond the 120-day comment period, which would have allowed 180 days for comment. The Senators had cited “the complexity and magnitude of the proposed rule” and the need for more time for state regulatory agencies and stakeholders “to fully analyze and comment on the proposal.”

JULY 22, 2014

111-d Stakeholder Meeting
Iowa DNR’s Air Quality Bureau hosted stakeholders to EPA’s proposed carbon rule for existing power plants, Section 111(d) of the Clean Air Act. Mark Smith, chief of air permitting and compliance branch with EPA Region 7, provided an overview of the EPA Clean Power Plan and shared numbers behind Iowa’s EPA-driven 16 percent emissions reduction goal by 2030:

2012 BASELINE: 1,552 lbs./MWh 2020 INTERIM GOAL: 1,341 lbs./MWh 2030 FINAL GOAL: 1,301 lbs./MWh


Smith also suggested Iowa stakeholders visit EPA’s Web resource for states: Clean Power Plan Toolbox for States.

IUB Chair Libby Jacobs addressed the group by describing the responsibilities and statutory requirements of the IUB. These include, Jacobs said, consumer interests, financial stability of the industry and reliability of the grid – with the underlying promise of sustainability. In regard to the state-specific plan for carbon emissions under EPA’s proposed 111(d) rule, the IUB desires to seek ongoing collaboration between the stakeholders. The IUB wants submitted comments to be based on “factual information.” At the meeting, the IUB also stated it is asking for information from the stakeholders – with an emphasis on the regulated utilities – by August 15.

For more information on 111(d), including handouts and presentations (PDFs) from this meeting, visit the Air Bureau’s Carbon Pollution Standards webpage. Also, EPA has posted the presentations from three 111(d) webinars.

111(d) Stakeholders Follow-Up Meeting Announced
Iowa DNR’s Catherine Fitzsimmons and Chuck Gipp at the conclusion of the July 22, 2014 111(d) stakeholders meeting proposed a follow-up meeting to be held on Friday, September 19, 2014. At the follow-up meeting, each stakeholder will have approximately 15 minutes to provide comments/ideas to the larger group about what comments concerning Iowa’s state plan each stakeholder plans to provide to the EPA before the EPA-mandated public comment period concludes on October 15, 2014.

JUNE 2, 2014

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U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Gina McCarthy on Monday, June 2 announced the EPA’s proposed Clean Energy Plan, which proposes state-specific goals to reducing America’s carbon emissions by 30 percent from existing, fossil fuel-fired electric generating units by year 2030. The baseline year for reducing carbon emission levels from existing power plants is 2005. Iowa power plants would be required to cut carbon emissions 16 percent by 2030. The draft rules are more than 600 pages in length. Download an EPA Clean Power Plan overview presentation (PDF).

As part of the “flexibility” extended to each state, as described by the EPA when it made the announcement, each state must create a plan to meet certain carbon pollution reduction goals based on the state’s unique energy mix and other considerations. As stated by the EPA: “To set state-specific goals, EPA analyzed the practical and affordable strategies that states and utilities are already using to lower carbon pollution from the power sector. These include improving energy efficiency, improving power plant operations, and encouraging reliance on low-carbon and zero-emitting electricity generation.” States can do a state-only plan, or states may collaborate and develop plans on a multi-state basis. Because of Iowa’s investment in renewable energy development and energy efficiency, Iowa’s burden is lighter than the national average (16 percent reduction as opposed to 30 percent). The EPA is proposing that Iowa develop a plan to lower its carbon pollution to meet its proposed emission rate goal of 1,301 lb/MWh in 2030. Click on Iowa to learn more about climate change impacts, state action, and EPA’s proposal for the state.

EPA‘s proposed rule was printed in the Federal Register on June 18, 2014, beginning a four-month public comment period that ends October 16, 2014.

JANUARY 3, 2014

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The The Office of Consumer Advocate (OCA), a division of the Iowa Department of Justice, on January 3, 2014 wrote a letter to U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Gina McCarthy and US EPA Region 7 Director of Air Waste Management Division Rebecca Walker providing initial written comments regarding the EPA’s plans to regulate carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from existing power plants. The letter comes shortly after a December 12, 2013 meeting with EPA Region 7 and other Iowa stakeholders on these issues.
Read more.

DECEMBER 6, 2013

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The Iowa Utilities Board on December 6, 2013 wrote a letter to U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Gina McCarthy and Acting Assistant Administrator, Office of Air and Radiation Janet McCabe, and US EPA Region 7 Director of Air Waste Management Division Rebecca Walker, providing initial comments regarding the EPA’s plans to regulate carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from existing power plants. The letter comes ahead of a planned December 12, 2013 meeting with EPA Region 7 and other Iowa stakeholders on these issues.
Read more.

SEPTEMBER 20, 2013

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As anticipated, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on September 20, 2013 announced its re-proposed New Source Performance Standard (NSPS) for carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from new electric generating units (EGUs). The new standard is a result of President Obama’s Presidential Memorandum issued June 25, 2013, which lays out his Climate Action Plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by about 17 percent below 2005 levels by 2020. The President has directed the EPA to work expeditiously to complete…
Read more.


IUA members are keenly aware that cyber threats to our nation’s energy system represent one of the most serious national security challenges facing our county. Iowa’s utilities continue to work with many national and state agencies, including the Iowa Utilities Board, in a cooperative manner to reduce such risks.

The following is Edison Electric Institute’s statement regarding cyber threats on

Protecting the nation’s electric grid and ensuring a reliable supply of energy are top priorities for the electric power industry. The power grid is a complex, interconnected network of generation, transmission, distribution, control, and communication technologies, which can be damaged by natural events—such as severe storms—and by malicious events, such as cyber attacks.

Cybersecurity is not new to the electric power industry—it has been a growing priority over the past decade. In fact, the electric and nuclear power sectors are the only critical infrastructure industries with mandatory and enforceable cyber standards.

Today, the electric power industry is forging ahead with a series of initiatives to safeguard the electric grid from cyber threats and is partnering with federal agencies to improve sector-wide resilience to cyber threats. The industry also collaborates with the National Institute of Standards and Technology, the North American Electric Reliability Corporation, and federal intelligence and law enforcement agencies to strengthen its cybersecurity capabilities.

As threats to the grid grow and become more sophisticated, the industry remains committed to continuing to strengthen its defenses against cyber attacks.

The IUA encourages you to visit Edison Electric Institute’s Cybersecurity issue section to learn more about the key elements for effective cybersecurity legislation, industry initiatives to protect the electric grid from cyber threats, NIAC government-industry partnership and EEI’s principles for cybersecurity and critical infrastructure protection.

Stray Voltage

Stray voltage, also known as neutral-to-earth voltage (NEV), is defined as a voltage resulting from the normal delivery and/or use of electricity (usually smaller than 10 volts) that might be present between two conductive surfaces. Put another way, stray voltage is electricity that’s pulled away from its established path back to the electric substation source (electricity, of course, needs to run in a complete circuit) and results from stray electrical currents that flow through the ground on other highly conductive services (e.g., metal, mud, water) not typically expected to carry those electrical currents. In rare cases, stray voltage has the potential to impact animals.

The safety of utility electrical systems is of paramount importance to utilities.

Claims of stray voltage and the resulting potential litigation can be costly for customers and utilities. Unlike other leading agricultural states, Iowa does not have a set of science-based standards to reasonably evaluate mitigate stray voltage. Therefore, utilities support legislative efforts that would require the Iowa Utilities Board to establish standards for measuring stray electric current or voltage affecting humans, dairy cows or other livestock.

On Monday, October 28, 2013, IUA President Mark Douglas addressed the Iowa legislature’s Interim Stray Electric Current and Agriculture Study Committee with a “Statement in Support of Iowa’s Rural Electric Cooperatives and their Legislative Efforts to Enact Standards and a Regulatory Process for Addressing Stray Voltage Claims.”

Franchise Fees

A city franchise agreement with an Iowa utility company is important for a number of reasons. Franchise agreements are the only method authorized by state law granting a utility the right to utilize the rights-of-way in a city for its poles, wires and pipes. The agreements protect the city from claims and legal action in the event that someone is injured or that property is damaged because the utility is doing business in the public areas of the city. In addition, there is usually no cost to a city for relocating portions of the utility’s infrastructure in the event it interferes with existing or future water systems or other public improvements.

As of January 1, 2016, 100 Iowa communities have enacted franchise fees as a part of their franchise agreements with utilities. A franchise fee is typically calculated on a percentage of the revenues derived from sales of electricity or natural gas to customers within that particular city. Franchise fees appear on a customer’s utility bill and are collected and remitted to the city by the electric and/or natural gas utilities serving the city.

View ‘Iowa Community Franchise Fee’ list as of January 12, 2016. You may also visit the IUA blog page and view the post titled “City Franchise Fees.”


For several years, Iowa has been among the national leaders in the production of electricity from wind generators.

Most recently, Alliant Energy announced $1 billion wind project in Iowa to advance clean energy. Alliant Energy’s Iowa utility is seeking regulatory approval to expand its Whispering Willow Wind Farm in Franklin County and possibly develop wind energy in other areas of the state. The five-year project will add up to 500 megawatts of clean energy to economically meet customer needs and is part of Alliant Energy’s vision for a clean energy future (from 2005 to 2030, Alliant Energy is targeting a 40% reduction in carbon dioxide emissions).

Also, MidAmerican Energy Company, in a joint news conference with Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad on April 14, 2016, outlined a plan (“Wind XI”) to invest $3.6 billion to install additional wind turbines (2,000 MW generation capacity worth) in Iowa by year-end 2019 (read MidAmerican Energy’s official news release; read the Office of the Governor’s official news release). MidAmerican Energy in May 2015 had also announced it was investing up to $1.9 billion into wind energy in Iowa, adding up to 656 new wind turbines that would generate approximately 3,335 megawatts of wind generation capacity in Iowa by year-end 2015 (now completed). View MidAmerican Energy’s “Wind Energy Overview” page for more information.

Along with MidAmerican Energy and Alliant Energy as a major players in Iowa’s wind energy generation, NextEra Energy also is maintaining some wind presence in the State (see IUA Member Companies with Iowa Wind Energy in Their Portfolios).

In August 2013, the U.S. Department of Energy released two new reports on wind energy: “2012 Wind Technologies Market Report” and “2012 Distributed Wind Market Report.” The reports can be downloaded from

While in Des Moines, Iowa for the 2013 Iowa State Fair, TV personality and weatherman Al Roker took some time out to give Iowa’s renewable energy efforts some national airtime on The Weather Channel. Watch Roker introduce a feature on wind energy in Iowa.

On June 25, 2013 President Barack Obama noted Iowa’s leadership in wind energy during his remarks on climate change:

…last year, Republican governors in Kansas and Oklahoma and Iowa — Iowa, by the way, a state that harnesses almost 25 percent of its electricity from the wind — helped us in the fight to extend tax credits for wind energy manufacturers and producers.

Read more about wind energy in Iowa in the IUA's blog post, Iowa's Wind Boom

IUA Member Companies with Iowa Wind Energy in Their Portfolios:

Alliant Energy
Interstate Power & Light (IPL), an Alliant Energy subsidiary, owns and operates the Whispering Willow Wind Farm-East in Franklin County, Iowa. It began commercial operation in December 2009. Whispering Willow-East consists of 121 turbines capable of generating up to 200 megawatts of electricity, enough power for approximately 50,000 homes. And Alliant Energy on July 27, 2016 announced it is investing $1 billion more into wind energy at Whispering Willow and possibly other areas of the state, adding up to 500 megawatts more clean energy to economically meet customer needs. This additional wind energy generation will power 215,000 more homes. Alliant Energy currently has two wind farms in Iowa, though Franklin County Wind LLC, a non-regulated subsidiary of Alliant Energy Corporation, owns and operates the Franklin County Wind Farm, also located in Franklin County, Iowa, near IPL’s Whispering Willow Wind Farm-East site. Franklin County Wind Farm has 60 turbines capable of generating up to 100 megawatts of electricity. View photos of Alliant Energy’s wind farms, including Whispering Willow Wind Farm-East.

MidAmerican Energy Company
To date, MidAmerican Energy owns and operates approximately approximately 3,335 megawatts of wind generation capacity generated by the company’s 1,715 wind turbines, which equates to approximately 39 percent of MidAmerican Energy’s total owned generation capacity will come from wind-powered generation from 1,715 wind turbines. Those numbers will continue to rise dramatcially with the Wind XI project. Overall, MidAmerican Energy is No. 1 in the nation in ownership of wind-powered generation capacity among rate-regulated utilities. Learn more by reading MidAmerican Energy’s “Wind Energy Overview” pages and by visiting MidAmerican Energy’s educational site,

NextEra Energy
NextEra Energy Resources maintains some wind presence in the State. NextEra’s Iowa wind projects include Cerro Gordo Wind Energy Center (Cerro Gordo County); Crystal Lake I (Hancock County), II and III (Winnebago County) Wind Energy Centers; Endeavor I and II Wind Energy Centers (Osceola County); Hancock County Wind Energy Center (Hancock County); and Story County I and II Wind Energy Centers(Story County). Each of NextEra’s Iowa wind projects is operated by a subsidiary of NextEra Energy Resources. Combined, the projects are capable of generating 1,005 MW of wind energy in Iowa and account for 687 turbines.

Want more information on wind energy in Iowa and across the United States? You should also check out the Iowa Wind Energy Association at and the American Wind Energy Association at