FRANKLIN COUNTY (KWWL) -- Iowa has overtaken California as the number 2 state in the country when it comes to wind energy capacity. Iowa is home to 6 wind manufacturing companies and is 1 of 2 to make the 3 parts of a windmill. Iowa has wind generation of 2700 megawatts with more wind farms on the way including what would be one of the state's largest wind farms in Franklin County.
The wind howls on much of Franklin County's farmland. That's why Alliant Energy is building a huge wind farm near Hampton. 121 turbines will be on land south and west of hampton for phase one of the project. It's a plan in the works since 2006. Work should be finished in about a year.
"I know there have been some counties that have started and finished in the amount of time it's taken here. I know talking to 10 to 20 towers, it's different," said Franklin County Director of Planning and Program Development Russell Wood.
Wood has watched the project's progress. He says few have opposed the project.
"Sometimes when you build a new building and it's an interesting building, people say boy, I can't see the things I used to see but not you get to see things you didn't use to see as well," said Wood.
But while Iowa ranks 2nd in wind energy, it still generates power for relatively few homes.
"We're not always able to count on that wind blowing when we need it most so it can't be considered a baseload facility like a coal-fired plant or nuclear facility but it has the potential to power 50,000 homes," said Alliant Energy spokesman Ryan Stensland.
Stensland says Alliant believes in the Franklin County project, investing $450 million. He says the state's number 2 ranking shows it's well-positioned to meet energy demands for years to come.
"This is a huge step and paints a bright picture for renewable energy in the state of Iowa," said Stensland.
And a boon for Franklin County, leaders say it means $40 million in taxes over 30 years. Once the first phase of the project is complete, Alliant could build another wind farm west of I-35 in Franklin County that would be even bigger.
Leslie Hospitality owner Edwin Leslie says he doesn't have anything to hide, and to prove it he invited the public to view all of the documents, emails, agreements, and financial statements related to the deal at a public meeting this morning.