Alliant Energy acquires rights to $500M wind farm

Tuesday, April 4, 2017
Wind turbines have already been erected for an Alliant Energy project in Franklin County. The turbines planned for Clay and Dickinson County will be produced by General Electric.
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Alliant Engery and Apex Clean Energy are working together on a Clay and Dickinson County wind farm large enough to power about 100,000 homes in Iowa.

More than 100 turbines will be going up as part of the proposed Upland Prairie project. The 300-megawatt farm's footprint will run mostly north and south from west of Milford in Dickinson County to north of Royal in Clay County, according to Ben Lipari, director of Alliant Energy's resource planning and project development department.

The Upland Prairie wind farm does not go into O'Brien or Osceola County. The tentative eastern edge of the project is about 4 miles west of Fostoria.

Apex Clean Energy of Charlottesville, Virginia, is doing development work for the project. Alliant would then continue with plans for construction and eventual operation of the wind farm.

"We had been in discussions with Apex since the fall of 2016 and here recently in March have executed a contract with Apex," Alliant Energy's Lipari said. "Apex would continue the development responsibilities for the project up through a time where they would have met the requirements completed development efforts which we expect to occur in the fall of 2017. And then at that point, we would close on the transaction and would acquire the development rights to the project."

The Upland Prairie wind farm and two wind farms in Franklin County are part of Alliant Energy's plan to add 500 megawatts to the company's portfolio at a cost of $1 billion. The Iowa Utilities Board signed off on development plans in October 2016.

"It's important for folks to understand that the energy we produce from a wind project like Upland Prairie will go directly Iowa customers from our Iowa utility," Lipari said.

Preliminary cost estimates for the Upland Prairie portion of project will exceed $500 million, but aren't expected to surpass $600 million.

Lipari said the Franklin County and Upland Prairie projects will improve Alliant's environmental profile as well. Officials with Apex say the project will employ slow-spinning wind turbines with a maximum height of 450 feet from base to tip. The turbines are spaced about 1/4 mile apart.

The Clay and Dickinson County location was appealing to developers because of existing high-voltage power lines and the area's existing highway infrastructure.

Apex is still in the process of identifying landowners who want to be part of the project. Three community meetings have already taken place to inform the public about lease agreements. Apex is conducting environmental studies to meet state and federal regulatory mandates as well.

Apex says the project will create hundreds of local jobs during construction and up to 15 full-time permanent jobs for continued operations and maintenance.

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