Hardin Hilltop Wind Farm, Iowa's first locally-owned wind farm, was dedicated Thursday, June 14, in ceremonies held at the Greene County Community Center in Jefferson.

Representatives of the local investor partners, the California utility project, the manufacturing and construction company that made the wind turbine equipment, Alliant Energy, the Iowa USDA Rural Development agency, the Iowa Energy Center, the Iowa Department of Economic Development, the Iowa legislature, and other entities praised the project and its success.

Bill Sutton, one of the Hardin Hilltop Wind Farm developers, presented Greene county board of supervisors chair Guy Richardson with a miniature model of one of the turbines to commemorate the dedication. Sutton said that the wind farm "is dedicated to the people of Greene county and to the glory of God."

Slides of the construction project were shown at the close of the dedication, with local investors describing the months of construction.

A number of the speakers credited the expertise of Tom Wind of Jefferson, a specialist in wind power, for helping to achieve success with Hardin Hilltop Wind Farm.

During the ceremonies, Sonjay Bhasin and Gary C. Griffin of the Edison Mission Group, the California utility subsidiary that manages the power generation business of Edison International, described their company's involvement in the wind power project. Bhasin praised the energy policies of Iowa, which he said were a big factor in the project's success, as was the assistance of the Iowa Energy Center, Iowa Farm Burea Federation, USDA Rural Development, and Iowa-based financial institutions.

Mark Reisenger, state director of USDA's Rural Development agency, said his agency was "thrilled to participate" with $1.7 million toward the project, and said that local development of wind power is "a great example of what we should be doing."

Bill Haman from the Iowa Energy Center cited the wind farm as "the beginning of community-based wind development in Iowa." Haman said he admires "the courage and ambition of the Hardin Hilltop Wind Farm owners, who didn't wait for an out-of-state company to come." He was pleased that the Iowa Energy Center was able to administer a state low-interest loan for the project.

Troy Weary of Alliant Energy noted that company's development of wind power in the state. Some 260 megawatts of power are now included in the company's portfolio, representing six percent of its energy output, with another 100 megawatts planned near Audubon.

State Representative David Tjepkes (R-Gowrie) cited Iowa's leadership in wind energy, and praised Hardin Hilltop's unique local ownership aspect. Wind energy in Iowa creates 605 permanent jobs and hundreds more temporary positions in the development of turbine farms. Within a 600-mile radius of central Iowa, $3 billion in annual investment is planned each of the next seven years, he said.

Joe Jongewaard, project manager in the business development division of the Iowa Department of Economic Development (IDED), was asked by Governor Chet Culver to represent him at the event. The governor had a schedule conflict and was unable to attend.

Jongewaard, a native of Jefferson, noted that Culver spent 2 1/2 days the previous week at the national wind energy conference attended by 6,000 people, and he said that Culver is "committed to wind power." Jongewaard said he is proud of Greene county, and that Hardin Hilltop Wind Farm "represents the spirit of the county I grew up in." He praised the work of Tom Wind nationally.

Today there are five manufacturers of wind turbine equipment in the United States, Jongewaard said, and three of them are in Iowa. Some 70 wind energy copanies made contact with IDED and Culver at the national wind energy conference, he said. In the next few years Iowa can create the critical mass to make the state be to the wind industry what Michigan and Ohio were to the auto industry in the 1950s and 1960s, he stated.

Sutton said he was grateful for the relationships developed throughout the proejct, and that it brought neighbors in the Hardin Hilltop area closer together. He also cited the great interest in the project within the Greene county area. He thanked Home State Bank of Jefferson for its assistance with the project. Sutton added that the project was made possible through the cooperation of Iowa legislators and the lobbying efforts of several organizations.

Members of the Hardin Hilltop Wind Farm group are Sutton, Wind, David Ausberger, Jay Ostrander, Jim Hinchliff, Jerry Ostrander and Jamie Ostrander.

Public tours were held at Hardin Wind Farm on Friday afternoon, following the Thursday dedication ceremonies.