Plans to erect wind turbines in Guthrie County unchanged, despite changes in ownership


September 23rd, 2011 by Ric Hanson

The players may have changed, but the game plan has not. That’s the word out of Guthrie County, with regard to the “Eclipse” Wind Energy Project. The Guthrie Center Times reports a transfer of deed last August between Clipper Windpower out of Ventura, California, and Mid-American Energy, means Mid-American has purchased the rights to the project, which calls for the construction of 60 wind turbines in southwestern Guthrie County.

Plans for the $206.5-million “Eclipse” Project began in 2006, but Clipper Windpower experienced financial setbacks, and, according to Guthrie County Assessor Rusty Pearson, the company had problems securing affordable transmission lines. The project experienced delays in getting underway, to the point where construction, which was to have begun in early 2010, was expected to start late this year.

Officials with Mid-American Energy told Pearson they intend to move ahead with the project, now that they assumed responsibility for it, and look to have construction bids awarded by late this Fall. The company has an incentive to finish the project sooner, rather than later: if it’s not done by the end of 2012, they stand to lose a large government grant.

Iowa currently has more than 2,500 wind turbines creating over 4,000 megawatts of electricity. Projects that are underway are expected to boost that energy output to 5,000 megawatts by the end of 2012. In December 2010, MidAmerican Energy announced a 593.4-megawatt expansion. That includes 193, 2.3-megawatt turbines, which are currently being erected in east- and southeastern- Cass, northeastern Adams, and southwest Adair counties as part of the “Rolling Hills Wind Project,” which is expected to be finished by the end of the year. Other turbines in the company’s expansion project are being built in Marshall and Calhoun Counties. When complete, approximately 26 percent of MidAmerican Energy’s total generation capacity will come from wind.