The economic and environmental benefits of our wind energy projects wouldn’t be possible without the landowners who partner with us to host wind turbines on their property. We spoke with several wind farm landowners about their stories, their experiences being part of the program, the renewable energy movement and what being a partner landowner means to them.
How long have you lived on your land?
Connie Dafford (Rolling Hills Wind Farm): I was born and raised in this area. A few years after I got married, we moved down to the Red Oak area and were there for 20-some years. We started farming my parents’ farm here in Massena in ‘97. Dad has passed away, so we came back to take over the farm. We’ve farmed corn and beans for many years. I have one turbine on my farm.
Dave Van Arkel (North English Wind Farm): We farm corn and soybeans. Our son and his wife live close and they’re part of the operation, too, plus they have sheep. Our family has lived on this farm since 1952. I was born in 1959. I’ve lived here my whole life! We have eight turbines on our property.
How did you become a partner landowner?
Connie: I was blessed and got contacted by [MidAmerican]. It was just fun to watch [the turbine] go up. It’s fascinating how they can bring the tower up with the cranes and move it over and connect everything together.
Dave: We were contacted long before [the project started], and after doing some initial research, my dad was totally in favor of it. My son was kind of questioning, and then we visited a turbine site and talked to neighbors in that area and were encouraged by their response. We then came home and talked to our neighbors to make sure they would be okay with it. Most of them were going to participate, so we thought, “let’s go for it.”
What were your first impressions of MidAmerican or their contractors?
Connie: They were all just nice gentlemen and hard workers. They had a job to do. Safety was always on their mind, that’s for sure.
Tracee Van Arkel (North English Wind Farm, Dave’s wife): I’m a big walker. I was always impressed, I could always tell if someone on the road was with the project, because they would always slow way down when I was walking and had my dogs with me. Now, it’s really nice – instead of having to walk on the gravel roads, I walk on the roads up to the turbine and around it.
“It’s just a thrill in the morning to look out my window and see the turbines in my area. From my yard, I see turbines in every direction. I enjoy them every day.”- Connie Dafford
How has your experience with MidAmerican been ever since?
Connie: I’ve never had any complications. Anyone who has talked to me has always been so pleasant, so helpful.
Tracee: We’ve always felt like whoever we’ve talked to has been supportive of our concerns.
Dave: I believe that MidAmerican is truly committed to being a good steward of the project. That doesn’t mean it’s all going to go smoothly, but they’re going to keep working, and it’s just amazing what they’re willing to do.
What do your friends and family say when they learn you have wind turbines on your land?
Tracee: Mostly they ask the same sort of questions we did at first!
Connie: Well, most of them don’t live out in the country, so whenever they come around, they always want to know if they can drive over and really see the turbine. I took a lot of pictures when [MidAmerican was] putting it up; people love to look through them when they come by. What fascinates you is how tall that baby is, you know? I like to brag. “Yep, that’s mine.”
What do you wish more people understood about wind power and the landowner program?
Dave: The negative things you hear [about renewable energy], I just don’t think there’s a basis for it. Our personal experience has been that those things aren’t the case. People just form their opinions, and then all they will listen to is what supports their opinion. Base it on your own experience, instead of doing what everybody’s telling you. Our personal experience has been positive.
What has participating in the landowner program done for you?
Connie: It helps support my living. I lost my husband the same year we got our wind turbine. He would have loved seeing it built.
Dave: It’s the closest to striking oil on our land as we’re gonna get.
What does being a partner landowner mean to you?
Connie: It’s just a thrill in the morning to look out my window and see the turbines in my area. From my yard, I see turbines in every direction. I enjoy them every day. It’s just cool, it’s just an ease to see the red lights during the night.
Tracee: I think [wind turbines] are becoming a scene of the landscape now. I was worried about being able to get used to them, but I think they’re kind of pretty, actually. I wanted the one on my farm to be painted pink, but they wouldn’t do it. (laughs) But, it’s just like our son said. He said, “Mom, you’re not even going to notice them later. It’s just going to be like telephone poles in the olden days.” When those first went up, people probably went, “Ahh, it’s ruining the Iowa landscape!” I don’t even notice them anymore.
What does renewable energy mean to you?
Connie: It’s security, it’s peace of mind. It’s safe electricity, just pure stuff. You don’t run risk of exhausting resources.
Dave: I just think it’s is a positive. I’m proud to be part of it. I was never really a renewable energy guy, but I just think it’s what we need to be doing.