Wind Powering America's Wind Resource Maps Help Launch Indiana's Wind Development: A Wind Powering America Success Story

April 27, 2010

A photo of a sunset, large wind turbines, and wheat.

The Goodland I wind project in Benton County, Indiana. Photo courtesy of Turner Hunt, Vision Energy. NREL16108

How does a state advance, in just a few years, from having no installed wind capacity to having more than 1,000 MW of installed capacity? Wind resource maps are among the most valuable tools used by the Wind Powering America (WPA) Project team to initiate state-based communication efforts about wind energy development. Stakeholders, including government officials and wind developers, use the maps to determine whether and how wind energy can benefit their states and territories and to identify promising project locations.

In Indiana, an updated wind resource map played a significant role in fostering wind energy development. During the compilation of the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE's) 20% Wind Energy by 2030 report, researchers at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) were tasked with updating wind resource maps, including one for Indiana. The new Indiana map showed considerably more wind resource potential (especially at 70 m and 100 m above ground) than indicated by the previous map detailing the resource at a height of 50 m. In January 2006, Dennis Elliott, NREL's principal wind resource assessment scientist, testified before Indiana's House Utilities Commission that Indiana has at least 40,000 MW of wind energy potential, challenging the notion that Indiana is a "coal state" that lacks sufficient wind resources for electricity generation.

Fast-forward four years and wind energy development in Indiana is in full swing.

  • Indiana is now home to five utility-scale wind projects: the 130-MW Goodland I project, the giant 600-MW Fowler Ridge Wind Farm (Phases I and II), the 200-MW Meadow Lake Wind Farm, and the 106-MW Hoosier Wind Farm.
  • The Goodland I and Fowler Ridge I projects employed more than 400 people during peak construction and created approximately two dozen full-time operation and maintenance jobs. Wind energy investment for the two projects is estimated to be more than $1 billion. More than 300 landowners participated in the projects, with land lease payments ranging from $5,000 to $9,000 per turbine per year.
  • Indiana is home to 10 wind manufacturing facilities that employ more than 1,000 people, providing economic development benefits for the state.