Midwest Municipal Utility is a Wind Power Pioneer
Waverly Light & Power (WLP) was the first utility in the Midwest to invest in wind energy with an 80 kW turbine in 1993. The municipal utility in northeast Iowa began to explore wind power as a way to diversify its energy resources, test more environmentally-friendly ways to generate electricity, and respond to the community’s interest in wind. The success of the first turbine prompted WLP to invest in two more turbines, 750 kW Zonds. This time the turbines were installed near Storm Lake in northwest Iowa to take advantage of a better wind resource and the economies of scale of that came with being part of a 259-turbine project.
With advances in technology and costs for wind energy dropping, in 2002 WLP determined that installing a large turbine in the local area made economic sense. The 900 kW NEG Micon turbine cost $1.1 million and now provides enough annual energy for 261 homes (about 2.2 million kWh). Residents and businesses in Waverly now get about five percent of their energy from wind power. The Iowa Department of Natural Resources wrote a case study that describes the operation and economics of this turbine in detail.
WLP launched the Iowa Energy Tags program in 2001 to allow citizens from Iowa and around the country to support its wind energy initiatives. For $50, any consumer or company in Iowa or around the country can buy the equivalent of 2,500 kWh of wind-generated electricity. The cost of WLP’s wind turbine investments has been integrated into the rates of all Waverly customers, but this program allows people to contribute extra toward more wind development.
WLP General Manager Glenn Cannon has been the guiding force behind the utility’s pioneering efforts in renewable energy. In a 2002 interview with Wind Powering America, Cannon outlined his vision for doubling WLPs use of wind power and ways to help other municipal utilities follow in Waverly’s footsteps. Click here to read the full interview.
Another Waverly wind power champion is honored in the names of WLPs four turbines. They are called Skeets 1, 2, 3, and 4 as a tribute the late Russell “Skeets” Walther, a Waverly farmer who volunteered his land for the first WLP turbine. The 231-foot tall Skeets 4 now stands in same spot as the original Skeets 1 as memorial to his great commitment to wind power.
Sources: Iowa Department of Natural Resources, Wind Powering America, and Waverly Light & Power