Section 9006 Grant: $400,000
Paul and Alice Neppel run a large, diversified grain and hog operation with their sons in western Iowa. Faced with an annual electric bill from their livestock buildings that exceeded $200,000 per year, the Neppels began to notice the two wind turbines that the nearby Spirit Lake School district had installed several years earlier. They decided that they, too, could benefit from the strong winds that passed over their property and decided to put up their own turbine.
They learned about the Section 9006 grant program shortly after the program was announced and applied for a grant. They also received an interest-free loan from the Iowa Energy Center and a loan for the balance from their local bank. The project went online in August 2004 and is now producing close to five million kilowatt-hours of electricity annually, enough for 400 Iowa homes. The electricity is being purchased by Alliant Energy under a long-term contract.
This was the first farmer- owned wind project in Iowa and has been a tremendous catalyst for other locally-owned wind projects there. Since the Neppels received their grant, more than two dozen other small locally- owned wind projects have begun in Iowa, many with the help of Section 9006 grants.