Issue: The wind turbines in Perry are operational after sittingidle for months.
Local Impact: The energy created is pooled together and distributed across the state, including in Perry.
Perry’s three wind turbines created a cluster of questions following their arrival in the community. While it is believed that the turbines help specifically power Perry as a whole, Alliant Energy says the turbines work alongside other turbines in Iowa to collectively provide energy.
“The concept that Perry is getting their power from those turbines is false,” said Justin Foss, Alliant Energy spokesman. “These turbines connect to our power grid and our power grid is throughout the state.”
The turbines are also not owned by either Alliant Energy or the City of Perry.
“A common misconception is that the city owns them, but they are owned by a private company and sold to Alliant energy,” Sven Peterson, City Administrator explains. “The company actually approached landowners and the city about putting wind towers up.”
The three turbines were placed on the property of at least two landowners, Peterson says, and was annexed from the city.
“All of that property out of there is voluntary,” Peterson said.
Mavis Struyk was approached before the construction as her property was a potential location for the wind turbines.
Struyk said the process was explained in detail and she approved the deal: 2.5 acres of her land would become a location for the turbines. She now has one on her property and receives a yearly paycheck to compensate her loss of land.
“I thought they treated us very well and I thought they’ve been very fair,” Struyk said.
The turbines were built by and are owned by HZ Windpower, a wind turbine company based in China.
After their construction, Alliant Energy bought the energy from the turbines, a federal practice the company conducts when new sources of energy arise.
“Federal law requires us to purchase energy for them,” Foss said. “A developer came in and installed those turbines and then we purchased them.”
In order to become purchased, the turbines need to go through the state.
“It comes back to federal law and requires that once they go through all of the proper studies to be able to connect, then they connect to our power grid and we purchase energy from them,” Foss said.
After the construction, however, the turbines took some time to spin.
“It’s not typical [time length between the finalization of the turbines and the movement of the turbine],” V.P. Project Manager at HZ Windpower, Kurtis Sherer said. “The hold-up was with the Iowa Department of Public Safety; we had to hire an electrical engineering company to inspect the turbines.”
Once inspection was complete, Sherer said the results from their efforts were positive.
“We went through the electrical inspection and didn’t have to change anything at all - it was perfect,” Sherer said.
Foss notes that while Alliant Energy did not participate in the construction of the wind turbines, projects can typically be lengthier in order to ensure the energy is properly stored.
“When we built our last major power plant it took us 3 years,” Foss explains. “It takes significant effort to make sure that we’re putting energy generation in the right spots.”
“It’s very complex to make sure that we have energy sources in the right spots so that everything works the way that it’s supposed to.”
Foss wants to clear up the misconception of the turbines providing direct energy solely to the Perry community.
“The way I describe it is a lot like if you take 5 cups of water on a table: you’ve got five sources of energy, once it’s dumped on a table, do you know where it came from? You can’t identify,” Foss explained. “So it’s nice to know that there is renewable energy being produced right to you.”
“You’re getting into such a fine level of detail that it can be quickly glossed over - that’s not a way to discourage it, but it’s important for folks to know that the energy they use comes from a variety of sources and what they’re trying to do is make sure on any day, the customers have the energy they need.”
Sherer is proud of Perry’s presence in the wind turbine industry in Iowa.
“I’d like to point out that wind energy in Iowa is very big,” Sherer said. “We’ve got over 4,000 turbines in Iowa and I am glad to be apart of that.”
The turbines, however, serve a purpose, one that Perry should be proud of, Foss says.
“Iowa is a leader in wind energy and it’s a great way to show support and to understand the important role that communities play,” Foss said.
“To be able to put these up and others across the state, we got to make sure that we have folks that want to have them there.”