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Iowa energy company explains why wind turbines don’t freeze in Iowa cold

A spokesperson with MidAmerican Energy Company says they install cold-weather packages into their wind turbines to help them stay warm as temperatures get colder.
Published: Feb. 19, 2021 at 8:49 PM CST
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DUBUQUE, Iowa (KCRG) - Texas relies heavily on natural gas, coal and nuclear energy in winter, but frozen wind turbines have gotten a lot of attention this week, with some wrongly saying renewable energy problems were the main reason why Texans lost power.

That is a problem Iowa has not faced, even with the February bitter cold temperatures.

MidAmerican Energy Company operates more than 3,300 wind turbines across Iowa. A spokesperson with the company told TV9 the main difference between Iowa and Texas is preparation.

”When we order our wind turbines we add cold-weather packages to them,” spokesperson Geoff Greenwood said. “That includes heating elements, for example, inside the gearbox that is behind the turbines and that keeps certain components warm and enables the turbines to operate throughout the year, summer and winter alike.”

Greenwood said those cold-weather kits enable the turbines to produce energy down to roughly -20 degrees.

Because their goal is to provide clean wind energy year-round, Greenwood said they also take preventative measures in the summer.

”We have wind turbine technicians go up there and make sure that everything is set to go for when it does get super cold,” he explained. “It is a little bit similar than what you would do as you approach winter with your car: you want to make sure that anti-freeze in there and the battery works and the oil lube filters are taking care of.”

Even though he thinks frozen wind turbines could have been prevented in Texas, Greenwood said the icing conditions in the Lone Star state did not help.

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