Congresswoman Abby Finkenauer was in Delaware County on Monday afternoon to tour the Elk Wind Farm near Greeley.
The congresswoman, who just wrapped up her first 100 days in office, said she wanted to tout the efforts of the wind energy industry after criticizing comments were recently made by President Donald Trump.
Finkenauer met with local economic development leaders and wind farm staff to learn more about the operation.
The Elk Wind Farm was developed and built by RPM Access in 2011. It consists of 17 wind turbines that line the countryside between Greeley and Edgewood. Kevin Lehs is the project manager for Elk Wind Energy.
Each wind turbine takes up half to three-quarters of an acre. RPM developer Kirk Kraft says the Elk Wind project has 18 landowners and they’re proud of the family-like relationship they have with them.
The Elk Wind Farm employed over 200 workers while the turbines were being built. Currently, it employs three maintenance technicians. The wind farm has added 42 and a half megawatts to the state’s wind generating capacity. The energy is sold to Central Iowa Power Cooperative based out of Marion, which supplies to many RECs in the area. They have a long-term agreement to buy the energy, so Lehs says what’s produced in Delaware County stays here in northeast Iowa. And while those turbines are making that energy, Lehs says the staff is doing everything they can to be good neighbors and stewards of the land.
Kraft says with their efforts to go above and beyond, it can be frustrating to hear negative comments about wind turbines and wind energy.
Both Delaware County and Edgewood officials say the Elk Wind Farm has been a huge economic boost to the area. Delaware County Economic Development Chairman Dean Sherman:
RPM is in discussions with the County on another potential wind farm project southwest of Manchester, though nothing has yet been confirmed.
photos courtesy of Janelle Tucker/KMCH