According to third quarter 2012 estimates by the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA), three percent of U.S. electricity supply is powered by wind. In our travels through the Midwestern American landscape, the seemingly unrelenting agricultural landscapes in Iowa and Nebraska were broken by the periodic fields of wind turbines.The state of Iowa contains the nation’s third (4,536 MW)largest wind energy resource. The first and second largest belong to Texas (10,929 MW) and California (4,570 MW). Nebraska has yet to rank in the top 20 of America’s wind energy producing states, with only a current capacity of 534 Megawatts. Change is in the air though, as we visited the recently completed Steele Flats Wind Farm with a combined 44 turbines and a maximum capacity of 75 MW. We visited the portion of turbines located in Jefferson County which had 31 of the 44 turbines. This is part of a state plan to increase wind-powered energy generation to 1,200 megawatts by the end of 2015.
On January 31st, 2014, our studio visited Robert Byrnes, the owner of Nebraska Renewable Energy Systems. He held a lecture on renewable energies and the deployment and policy development of renewable energy production in Nebraska. He has developed several small businesses in the rural community of Lyons where he also powers his off grid farm through a combination of wind turbines and solar panels. The experience in itself was a spyglass into a possible future where Americans are self-dependent, which advocates for a more frugal lifestyle and points to a more sustainable future.