The Institute for Sustainable Infrastructure (ISI) announced today that two of Alliant Energy’s Wind Farms – Upland Prairie and English Farms – located in Everly and Montezuma, Iowa respectively are the recent recipients of the Envision® Platinum award for sustainable infrastructure. To earn Envision Platinum, a project must demonstrate it delivers a heightened range of environmental, social, and economic benefits to the host and affected communities.
Alliant Energy, a Midwest energy company engaged in electric generation and the distribution of electricity and natural gas, expects to increase its renewable energy capacity from 20% in 2018 to 33% by 2024. Completion of the Upland Prairie and English Farms Wind Farms with the projected combined energy capacity of 470 megawatts, is a significant contributor to meeting this goal. The electricity generated by these two wind farms will be enough to power approximately 168,000 Iowa homes per year.
The project team selected the wind turbines based on several key factors, including high-performance, durability and noise reduction. The new turbines selected by Alliant Energy can withstand higher wind speeds, have a lower cut-in wind speed and have a higher capacity factor, as compared to previous models. As a result, customers will see benefits from more low-cost energy. With higher-performing turbines, fewer units are needed per project. This minimizes disturbance to ecologically sensitive areas, like wetlands, on the project site.
“These two projects are part of a larger expansion of wind energy for our customers. We’re using advanced wind turbine technology to provide emission-free and cost-effective energy for our customers for decades,” said Terry Kouba, President of Alliant Energy’s Iowa energy company. “We are continuing to transition our generating fleet to cleaner, more cost-effective sources, which will promote a 40% reduction in carbon emissions by 2030 and an 80% reduction by 2050.”
Alliant Energy worked in close collaboration with General Electric Renewable Energy, Black & Veatch and White Construction to deliver these award-winning sustainable projects.
“Alliant Energy’s commitment to increasing its production of renewable energy makes good sense, both environmentally and economically,” said Melissa Peneycad, ISI’s Managing Director. “At a time when many of us are concerned with reducing greenhouse gas emissions to prevent the worst effects of climate change, Alliant Energy is demonstrating notable leadership in this area. The Upland Prairie and English Farms wind farms are part of the company’s larger renewable energy strategy and we hope Alliant’s leadership will encourage other companies to follow suit. On behalf of ISI, I am pleased to present the Envision Platinum award for sustainable infrastructure to Alliant Energy for these two wind farm projects.”
Other Alliant Energy projects have previously been recognized for sustainability with Envision awards. The company’s Marshalltown Generating Station and Dubuque Solar projects have each earned Envision Platinum for sustainability. The Upland Prairie and English Farms wind farms bring Alliant Energy’s total number of Envision awards to four.
The Envision sustainable infrastructure framework assesses project sustainability across five categories: Quality of Life, Leadership, Resource Allocation, Natural World, and Climate and Resilience. These key areas contribute to positive social, economic, and environmental impacts on a community during the planning, design, and construction of infrastructure projects.
Key factors contributing to the Upland Prairie and English Farms wind farm projects earning an Envision Platinum award include:
Alliant Energy’s investment of $1.8 billion in wind energy through 2020 is a remarkable statement of their commitment to diversifying energy sources and offering low-cost, zero-emission power to their customers. In 2005, renewables comprised 5% of Alliant Energy’s generation capacity and coal accounted for the largest percentage at 44%. By 2018, renewables were up to 20% and coal was at 31%.
Win-Win for Farmers and Surrounding Communities
The project sites are located on land leased from farmers engaged in intensive row crop agriculture. Lease payments provide an income stream and contribute to local economic growth. In addition, the projects included the construction of additional access roads that reduce travel time to crop fields. Further, the increases in property taxes due to the improved land use are given to the local county and local schools.
Reducing Noise and Vibrations
Wind turbines can contribute to noise and vibrations in areas surrounding the project site. To address this issue, the project team selected Low Noise Trailing Edge (LNTE) turbine upgrades and worked with the turbine manufacturer and an acoustical consultant to survey the baseline and model noise in the area. Automatic monitoring systems will be used for predictive maintenance, precluding any vibration issues that may result. Also, during construction, the contractor utilized low vibration techniques for excavation, foundation placement, and backfill to minimize impacts to the community.