Wednesday, May 3rd marked the inauguration of the newest Iowa wind energy project, a large scale distributed generation installation which took three years to complete. The project is primarily owned and operated by Building Energy, an Italian based company. Optimum Renewables, based in West Des Moines, was the local development partner. This wind farm is the first U.S. wind project for Building Energy.

Building Energy is a global renewable energy firm headquartered in Milan, Italy.  Andrea Braccialarghe, the Managing Director of America, is based out of their Washington DC office.  However, Mr. Braccialarghe has ties to Iowa that go back nearly 15 years when he spent time in the state of Iowa for a different career. He stated his deep affection for the state of Iowa, especially the people he met here years ago during his first visits.

Building Energy’s mission is to “be a leader in the creation of renewable energy, delivering complete solutions, working as a vertically integrated team to drive performance throughout the value chain while continuously delivering both commercial and utility scale power plants worldwide.” Building Energy has experience working in 24 countries across the globe.

The installation is made up ten turbines across four counties: Story, Boone, Hardin, and Poweshiek. Five turbines are located near Nevada, two turbines near Huxley, one turbine near Iowa Falls, one turbine near Kelly, and one turbine near Grinnell. The turbines are Acciona’s AW125/3000, 3MW turbines. Acciona Wind Power, which has facilities in West Branch, Iowa, has a ten-year contract to supply, operate, and maintain the turbines for this wind farm. The total investment in the construction of the project came to $58 million.

According to COO of Building Energy, Alessandro Bragantini, these turbines are the first turbines in the state with three megawatt capacity. The wind farm can generate up to 110 gigawatt hours annually, which is enough to provide electricity for 11,000 US families. This wind project will help Iowa reach its goal of 40% electricity generated from wind power by 2020.

In addition to supplying additional wind power, the project created jobs for local Iowans. The construction of the ten turbines employed more than 100 local workers. Some of these jobs will be permanent, to help with operating and maintaining the turbines, as well as supplying other necessary services for upkeep of the turbines.

Employees from Building Energy and collaborators on the project, gathered on May 3rd, for the ceremonial ribbon cutting. The ribbon cutting took place under one of the Nevada, Iowa turbines and marked the official launch the operations of the wind farm.

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Collaborators on the wind farm gathered on May 3rd for a ceremonial ribbon cutting under the Nevada, Iowa turbine.

The Wind of Life event, a celebration of the project, followed the ribbon cutting ceremony. The event was held at the Reiman Gardens in Ames. Representative from Sen. Ernst’s office and Sen. Grassley’s office were in attendance for the event.

The event featured several speakers who praised the wind farm and the role it will play in reaching Iowa’s 2020 wind goal. The speaker list included Rob Hogg D-Cedar Rapids – Iowa Senate Minority Leader, Giuseppe Finocchiaro – Italian Consul General of Chicago, Bragantini, and IWEA President – Dain Jorgenson.

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IWEA President, Dain Jorgenson, spoke at the Wind of Life event.

During his speech Jorgenson stated, “Projects like this bring jobs and economic activity to our state, especially rural Iowans.  We appreciate their investment in Iowa.”

In 2016, over 36% of the state’s electricity was produced by wind power. Additionally, 9,000 jobs were directly or indirectly supported by wind power. The state aims to increase both of these numbers, which is likely given the continuing growth of the wind industry throughout the state.