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  • Fri September 12 2008
  • Posted Sep 12, 2008
Riceville IA [bikeiowa note: not completely bicycle-related, but a great way Iowa is using wind power as clean energy!] The City Council is also planning to connect the bike trail to the Lookout by way of a rolled limestone path. By Dianna Nicolai You may have noticed the new look our landscape has taken on within the last few months. Now huge wind towers, correctly called wind turbines, replace part of the crops in fields where corn and soybeans grew abundantly. It seems there are many questions everyone has as to how the whole "wind as an energy source" thing works. According to Kevin Clark, a representative for Horizon Wind Energy, many of those questions will be addressed at a new Lookout visitor park being built by Horizon. The Lookout will be located on S.E. County Road (Oakdale blacktop) in LeRoy on approximately two and one-half acres of land formerly owned by Ron Peters and the City of LeRoy. The targeted completion date for the Lookout is November 1, 2008. Clark said, "The intention of the Lookout is to give people information on the wind farm and wind turbines - let them see just how big they are. Coming off the Oakdale road there will be a u-shaped drive and a small parking lot that will hold about 5 cars. The sidewalk will be built in the shape of a turbine tower with the base being 12 feet wide and the blade built to scale, which is about 130 feet long. The towers are 80 meters or 260 feet in height; the diameter of the assembly is 82 meters." Binoculars will be set up in order that observers may get an up-close look at the nearest wind turbines and there will be kiosks explaining the turbines. The closest wind turbine will be about eight-tenths of a mile from the Lookout and is part of 182 turbines called Pioneer Prairie Wind Farm. The Wind Farm is located in the Stacyville, Wayne and Oakdale townships of Mitchell and Howard Counties in Iowa and will affect 100 landowners and 30,000 acres of privately-owned land, which, according to Horizon, "will be more than sufficient for a 301.95 megawatt wind farm." The turbines are set 1,000 feet apart and each generate 1.65 megawatts, for an annual output of 990,000 megawatt hours, expected to be enough power for approximately 98,500 homes. This wind power project is expected by Horizon to create fifteen to twenty-five full-time, permanent jobs as well as more than 200 jobs during construction. Wind farms generally operate in excess of 20 years. A 20-year life cycle is anticipated due to the possibility of new, more efficient turbines being created during those years. At the LeRoy City Council meeting held on August 25, Clark stated, "I have had tons of requests to do tours. This [Lookout] is a nice easy way to say yes. This kind of tour is a nice way to do it and an easy way for everyone to get a view of a wind farm." The area surrounding the new Lookout will be spruced up by 30-40 of Horizon's technicians. Several picnic tables may be located under the big oak tree and a street light will be positioned at the entrance. The installation of a water fountain is also being considered. The City Council is also planning to connect the bike trail to the Lookout by way of a rolled limestone path. Maintenance and upkeep of the Lookout will be taken care of by Horizon. Clark said, "We plan to use the area [Lookout] to promote wind power. Having an Earth Day Festival there is something we may do in the future. Wind energy is clean, domestic and it creates jobs here, instead of overseas."

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