Hawkeye State Embraces The Wind

State Economy

The population of the “Hawkeye State,” Iowa is approximately 3.20 million people[1]. Iowa is the 32nd most populate state in the United States.

In 2022, Iowa’s economy was ranked 30th in the United States in gross domestic product (GDP)[2]. The state’s economy is dependent on the agriculture, food processing, biofuels, renewable energy, farm equipment, financial, and insurance industries[3].

Environmental Policies

In 1983, Iowa enacted the Alternative Energy Law which requires all investor-owned utilities to own or contract 105 MW of renewable energy capacity[4].

Iowa’s Alternative Energy Law effectively requires investor-owned utilities to sell approximately 3% of their annual electricity from renewable energy sources.

Power Generation Capabilities

In February 2023, utilities[5] used renewable energy (74.9%), coal (15.1%), and natural gas (10.0%) to generate electricity in Iowa. Wind is the dominant type of renewable energy used to generate electricity in Iowa.

In February 2023, the average cost of residential electricity in Iowa was 11.80¢ per kWh, compared to the national average of 15.96¢ per kWh.

Recent renewable energy developments in Iowa include:

  • 2,042 MW Wind + 50 MW Solar Project – Iowa utility, MidAmerican Energy is continuing work on the Wind Prime project at a site approximately 100 miles southwest of the state capital, Des Moines. The wind plus solar project is forecast to be commissioned in 2024.
  • 200 MW Wind Project – In December 2021, Illinois power company, Invenergy commissioned the Plymouth Wind Energy Center at a site approximately 150 miles northwest of Des Moines.
  • 5 MW Solar Project – In March 2021, Idaho renewable energy company, Clenera commissioned the Wapello Solar project at a site approximately 125 miles southeast of Des Moines.
  • 100 MW Solar Project – In December 2022, French utility, EDF commissioned the Holiday Creek solar project at a site approximately 90 miles north of Des Moines.


Coal mining began in Iowa  in the 1840s[6]. Coal was initially used to fuel steam engines, furnaces, and forges. Iowa’s last coal mine closed in the 1990s. The coal used to fuel Iowa’s power plants is now brought by rail from Wyoming.

In 2010, 72.5% of Iowa’s electricity was generated from coal-fueled power plants[7]. In February 2023, 15.1% of the state’s electricity was generated from coal-fueled power plants. Why the decrease in the use of coal?

  1. Pollution – Coal ash, the product of coal burned in a power plant contains arsenic, mercury, and lead; which are toxic. In 2019, coal ash was documented to have leaked into the ground water around 241 coal-fired plants in America[8].
  2. EconomicsThe cost to generate power from coal without subsidies is more than double the cost to generate power from renewables, like wind and solar.
  3. Climate Change Coal generates 40 % to 45 % more greenhouse gases than natural gas.

Over the last fifteen years, Iowa’s utilities have turned from coal fueled power plants to renewable energy for electricity. In 2021, wind turbines generated 58% of Iowa’s electricity, the highest percentage of any state. The Hawkeye State is embracing renewable energy, saving consumers money, and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Jack Kerfoot

Website – “Our Energy Conundrum”




Jack Kerfoot is a scientist, energy expert, and author of the book FUELING AMERICA, An Insider’s Journey and articles for The Hill, one of the largest independent political news sites in the United States. He has been interviewed on over 100 radio, podcast, and television stations from New York City to Los Angeles on numerous energy issues.

[1] Iowa Population 2023, World Population Review

[2] U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of Economic Analysis

[3] Biggest Industries in Iowa – World Atlas

[4] National Conference of State Legislators – State Renewable Portfolio Standards and Goals, August 13, 2021

[5] U.S. Energy Information Agency – Iowa State Profile and Energy Estimates, www.eia.gov

[6] Iowa PBS, The Iowa Heritage – Industrial Heritage, 1979

[7] EIA, Electric Power Sector Consumption Estimates, Georgia 1960-2018

[8] Reuters, “Coal Ash Contaminates Groundwater Near Most U.S. Coal Plants: Study” by Valerie Volcovici, March 3, 2019

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