We've seen some fairly impressive uses of wind power, but a group in Iowa is looking to actually capture and preserve excess wind energy for use when demand peaks. At the Iowa Stored Energy Park, a number of local utilities is "building a system that will steer surplus electricity generated by a nearby wind farm to a big air compressor," which will be held deep below the ground for future use. The project is being backed by the Energy Department, but more than a hundred municipal utilities in surrounding states are shelling out $200 million to construct the 268-megawatt system. As it stands, Iowa's compressed air energy storage (CAES) installation will be the first of its kind when it's completed in 2011, but there's already work being done in Texas to build a similar unit.

[Via Ecotality]