The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) recognized Iowa Lakes Electric Cooperative this week with the 2011 Wind Cooperative of the Year Award. The DOE and the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA) presented the award at the TechAdvantage 2012 conference on Thursday afternoon in San Diego, Calif.
“Iowa Lakes Electric is very pleased and honored to receive this award. Our wind project was made possible because of a great team effort,” said Terry Bruns, president and chief executive officer at Iowa Lakes. “Because of these efforts, in coordination with those of Basin Electric, Corn Belt Power, NRECA, Iowa Association of Electric Cooperatives (IAEC), CFC, CoBank and Power System Engineering, we were able to condense what normally is a three-year project into an 18 month timeframe.”
This award honors the Iowa-based utility for its installation of two, 10.5-megawatt wind energy projects in only 18 months, making the Iowa Lakes the first electric distribution cooperative to design, finance and complete a wind energy project of this size over such a short period. The project took an innovative approach using existing substation infrastructure, which allowed the cooperative to avoid building an expensive transmission-level connection to the electrical grid and saved approximately $5 million. Additionally, the wind production facilities are providing electricity for two area ethanol plants.
“To date, our wind farm production has exceeded projections. I would like to thank our board, our employee team and our members for their commitment to this first in the nation renewable energy serving renewable energy project.”
The Wind Cooperative of the Year Award, created by NRECA and DOE's Wind Powering America outreach and education initiative, recognizes electric cooperatives that demonstrate outstanding leadership in advancing wind power in the United States.