It was a pleasure to read the Friday, June 22 story summarizing Democrat gubernatorial candidate Fred Hubbell’s brief interview with the Globe Gazette and his stance on wind energy. Hubbell advocated creating new jobs in the renewable energy field, and cut to the chase by saying the jobs are good paying and we have the wind resources.
While attending Gov. Kim Reynolds’ stop in Mason City earlier this spring, I had asked her about her stance on renewable energy. The governor’s response was also very positive towards wind energy — good paying jobs that help keep our young people in the area, support our rural economies, and protect the environment.
In this seemingly hypersensitive political environment we are living in these days, it is good to know that there are still issues where political officeholders and candidates from different parties can agree.
If you travel the landscape of North Iowa, wind turbines have now almost become as common as the Aermotor windmills of the 1930s — with less noise. In Worth County alone, we currently have 229 turbines, which contribute close to $172 million in assessed valuation to our county’s tax base. (Another 58 proposed turbines that will provide energy to the Minneapolis market are dependent on the approval of a Minnesota regulatory body.) That averages a little over $750,000 per turbine. Do the math, and one turbine generates approximately the same property tax revenue as 15 $100,000 valued homes.
In April of 2018, the Iowa Association of Counties surveyed its members regarding turbine data. Seventy-one counties responded. In those counties, turbines now total just shy of 4,000, including Franklin (181), Howard (112), Mitchell (136), Winnebago (134) and Floyd (50). Particularly across North Central and Northwest Iowa, the property tax revenue has paved roads, repaired bridges, and added to the general health of county budgets.
Appraisals of farms on the market or for other transaction purposes consistently are valued higher than similar properties without turbines. Lending institutions view turbine income as a valuable asset in the purchase of property, or for other lending purposes. For farm and rural families, turbine income can be an important component of transferring property from one generation to the next.
Local contractors move the snow in winter. The service trucks stop at our gas stations, and we see the bright-colored safety vests in our restaurants at noon. In Worth County, the Manly Terminal has become an intermodal site for the transfer off rail to truck and on to final construction destinations.
Wind energy is good for the environment, good for the economy, good for the taxpayer, and good for rural Iowa.
If Republicans and Democrats can agree on this, perhaps there is hope to find agreement on other issues.
Merlin Bartz currently serves as a Worth County Supervisor and served as chair of the Natural Resources and Environment Committee in the Iowa State Senate from 1997-2001.