A Texas-based company's come to Iowa looking to cash in on the wind.
Two years ago, Clean Line Energy Partners first announced their intentions to harness the wind and convert it into an energy source for more populated parts of the country.
Part of the project is a $250-million converter station. The station was initially expected to be within a 50-mile radius of Sioux City. Recently, we learned that Clean Line had selected O'Brien County instead. Hans Detweiler, Clean Line Development Dir.:"O'Brien County ends up being right in the middle of the best wind resource in Northwest Iowa, and so if you put the converter station there, then the lengths of the transmission lines would be coming from the wind farms to get into our converter station is shorter. If you put the converter station right next to Sioux City, you're sort of in the river valley. It doesn't make sense for people to build wind farms immediately adjacent to that area."
Detweiler says Sioux City still stands to benefit from the project... which is expected to create 500 permanent jobs. Sioux City's economic development team confirms they are looking to land more than one spin-off business.
And, they're not the only ones hoping to make money off this renewable resource. The Mayor of Marcus, Iowa has been following the project from day one. Now he knows it will practically be in his backyard. Darrell Downs, Marcus, IA Mayor:"This is what I've felt was needed for a long time." Downs says once the project is up and running there's a good chance you'll see some wind farms in Marcus.
Others see more immediate potential. Construction companies filled the Sioux City Convention Center to sell their services to Clean Line's contractor, Omaha-based Kiewit. Pat Monahan, Old Castle Materials:"We have a lot of equipment, we have a lot of capability. We're always looking for projects such as this."
Clean Line plans to spend one-point-two billion dollars building 500 miles of transmission line to carry electricity from Iowa to Illinois. Brian NewBerg, Sabre Industries:"It fits right into our sweet spot of manufacturing." Sioux City's Sabre Industries is in the midst of a major expansion to handle jobs like this. They build the steel structures like transmission line towers. It's easy to see the domino effect a project like this could have. Brian NewBerg, Sabre Industries:"We have to purchase steel, so there's steel suppliers in the state of Iowa, right here in Sioux City, the freight, the transportation aspect."
The transmission line isn't expected to be finished until the year 2017. It will require 5,000 construction workers, and they'll need a place to sleep. Jackie Johnson, Hometown Guest House:"Maybe we can get some construction workers staying with us and promote out town."
No matter who you talk to, there's excitement for a project that could not only bring some energy independence to the nation but some work to Siouxland. Pat Monahan, Old Castle Materials:"A project like this going across the state of Iowa will create a lot of jobs, put a lot of people back to work."
Wind farm construction could reach another billion dollars. But, Siouxland won't get any of the actual wind energy produced for this project. All of that will be shipped off out east.