Alliant Energy is committed to providing you with balanced energy solutions that are environmentally responsible, reliable and cost effective.
Alliant Energy subsidiaries Interstate Power and Light Company (IPL) and Wisconsin Power and Light Company (WPL) first started buying power from Midwestern wind facilities in the late 1990’s and we have built on that commitment to wind energy ever since.
Combined, IPL and WPL currently purchase nearly 600 megawatts (MW) of nameplate capacity from wind farms across Iowa, southern Minnesota and Wisconsin. IPL and WPL also own and operate our own wind farms (3), with 468MW of owned wind energy combined.
WPL’s first owned and operated wind farm, the Cedar Ridge Wind Farm, is located in Fond du Lac County, Wisconsin. The 68MW wind farm first began producing emissions-free energy in December 2008. The company’s second wind farm, the Bent Tree Wind Farm in Freeborn County, Minnesota began commercial operation in February 2011. It consists of 122 turbines capable of producing 200MW of wind energy.
IPL’s first owned and operated wind farm, the Whispering Willow Wind Farm-East, is located in Franklin County, Iowa. It has 121 turbines capable of producing 200MW of wind energy, enough to power approximately 50,000 homes. Whispering Willow Wind Farm-East began commercial operation in December 2009.
For specific details on each of these wind farms and other renewable energy efforts, check out an overview of our entire renewable energy portfolio.
To learn more about how a wind turbine works and get answers to other frequently asked questions about wind energy, please use the links below.
- Frequently asked questions about wind power
- How a wind turbine works
- Facts and figures about wind power
- More online resources
- And don't miss our online Wind Power Photo Gallery, with downloadable images of wind farms in Iowa and Wisconsin.
Frequently asked questions about wind power
Why use wind power?
Wind power is a free, non-polluting, renewable resource. No matter how much is used, there will still be a plentiful supply in the future.
What is a wind farm?
Wind farms are clusters of turbines that generate electricity. Wind is a free and renewable resource that produces clean energy - no emissions, no waste products. Wind farms are located in areas with reliably favorable wind speeds.
What causes wind?
The wind that turns the turbine blades is a form of solar energy. The sun warms the earth's atmosphere unevenly, causing the air to move and swirl, creating wind.
For centuries, wind movement has been converted into mechanical power for low-tech jobs like watering cattle. Now, we can use it to efficiently turn high-tech turbines for electrical generation.
Does using wind power really make a difference for the environment?
Yes! A single utility-scale wind turbine can prevent the emission of 1,500 tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) into the atmosphere per year. It would take a 500-acre forest to dissipate the same amount of CO2 - a “greenhouse gas” that contributes to global warming.
Why does wind power cost more?
Facilities that use renewable resources to generate electricity are currently more expensive to build and operate. However, the cost of development power has decreased by 20 percent since the 1980s.
Increased customer demand for renewable energy should lead to the development of more renewable resources like wind, as well as lower prices. In addition, the federal Energy Production Tax Credit is helping utilities invest in new wind facilities.
Can I use wind power at home or work?
While we can't directly send wind-generated electricity to your house or business, you can support the growth of wind power - and solar and biomass energy - through our Second Nature™ program.
How a wind turbine works
A wind turbine works the opposite of a fan. Instead of using electricity to make wind, a turbine uses wind to make electricity.
The wind turns the blades, which spin a shaft, which connects to a generator and makes electricity. The electricity is sent through transmission and distribution lines to a substation, then on to homes, business and schools.
Facts and figures about wind power
Wind power in the United States
- In 2010, the U.S. wind industry installed 5,115 megawatts (MW) of new wind energy generating capacity. That’s enough to power more than one million American homes.
- As of the end of 2010, wind energy generating capacity in the U.S. stands at 40,180 MW. That’s enough energy to power more than 10 million homes.
- America’s current wind power fleet will avoid an estimated 62 million tons of carbon dioxide annually, which is the equivalent to taking 10.5 million cars off the road.
- The Midwest has some of the highest wind power potential on earth. Iowa, Minnesota and Wisconsin all rank in the top 20 states for wind power potential.
- Currently, wind power supplies about 1.9 percent of the nation's total electricity production at a cost of about 2.5 cents more per kilowatt-hour, after federal tax credits, than electricity generated by standard sources.
Wind power in Iowa
- With 3,675 MW installed, Iowa trails only Texas in installed wind power generating capacity.
- 20 percent of the electricity generated in Iowa comes from wind.
- Iowa has the potential to produce 4.8 times its own annual electrical consumption through wind power.
Wind power in Wisconsin
- In 2011, Wisconsin is home to ten commercial wind farms, with nearly 469 MW’s of wind power capacity.
- Fond du Lac County and northeastern Dodge County are currently home to five of the ten.
- Wisconsin currently ranks 18th in existing wind capacity and 18th in potential capacity.
Wind power in Minnesota
- Minnesota ranks fourth nationwide with nearly 2,200 MW of installed wind capacity, as of December 31, 2010.
- Since 2004, Minnesota has increased its installed wind capacity by 200%
- According to the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA), Minnesota has the potential capacity for 75,000 MW of wind energy, which ranks it 9th nationally.
Wind turbines and wind farms
- Based on the current U.S. utility fuel mix, a single one MW turbine displaces nearly 1,800 tons of carbon dioxide, nine tons of sulfur dioxide and four tons of nitrogen oxide each year.
- One MW of wind capacity can generate over 3,000 megawatt-hours annually. The average American home uses approximately 10.7 megawatt-hours of electricity per year, so that one MW of wind capacity is enough to supply more than 250 American homes.
- An ideal location for a wind farm is one that has an average annual wind speed of at least 14 miles per hour.
More online resources