In 2012, after working for years to build a wind farm in the north-central part of the state, TradeWind CEO Rob Freeman announced the company was pulling out of Missouri. He said the company would shift its focus to states where there was a “clear commitment” to wind energy.
Ouch. Meanwhile, two neighboring states—Illinois and Iowa—have invested. Here’s some of what they’re doing that Missouri isn’t.
• Potential: Sustained gusts are important in the world of wind energy. Iowa, with a large dark blue tint, does have some advantage over Missouri. But Missouri does have potential. Most of the prime space is in the northwest corner of the state, though there are pockets of high-potential land in north-central and southwest Missouri.
• Incentives: Iowa and Illinois provide tax incentives tailored toward renewable energy. Brian Dabson, a professor at the University of Missouri who has researched the state’s energy makeup, said a barrier for growth in Missouri is that the state doesn’t have specific tax incentives for wind energy.
• An Early Start: Iowa has had a renewable energy standard for more than 30 years, mandating a percentage of the state’s energy has to come from renewable sources. Missouri voters passed a standard in 2008. The statute mandates that Missouri must get 15 percent of its energy from renewables by 2021. Shifting from coal has been a challenge. Since adding 149 megawatts worth of wind energy to its grid in 2010, growth has stagnated. Missouri only added 1.5 megawatts the next year.
• The market: Storing and transmitting power throughout entire states is a challenge, but Chicago is a huge market that demands energy. The National Resource Defense Council argues that Missouri’s largest metros could drive demand in the state. Columbia, Mo. has been in talks with wind energy providers to satisfy its renewable energy standard.
*The above maps from the Natural Resources Defense Council and show existing projects in Iowa, Illinois and Missouri. Darker blue tints mean that area has more potential for generating enough wind for utilities.