At a press conference held at the Iowa state fairgrounds in Des Moines on April 14, Gov. Terry Branstad joined MidAmerican Energy Company officials in announcing a major project that he says will provide a cleaner energy future for Iowa. The proposed project to expand the number of wind farms Mid-American operates in the state would increase company’s wind energy equal to 85% of annual customer use.
MidAmerican Energy is filing a request with the Iowa Utilities Board to build Wind XI (which is called “Wind Eleven”), a project that will add up to 2,000 megawatts of wind generation in Iowa. The proposed $3.6 billion project is being done without asking for an increase in customer rates or financial assistance from the state to pay for it. The announcement is a big step toward realizing the company’s vision of 100% renewable energy for customers in the state.
Iowa would be first state in nation to generate more than 40%
Branstad said he is proud of MidAmerican Energy’s long-standing and ongoing commitment to clean energy, which has helped make Iowa a national leader in renewable energy.
“This project puts Iowa on track to be the first state in the nation to generate more than 40% of its energy needs from wind power – far ahead of any other state. Today, Iowa is the only state to have crossed the 30% mark,” he said. “We welcome this opportunity to expand Iowa’s renewable energy and thank MidAmerican Energy for making this investment in our great state. Every wind turbine you see in Iowa means income for farmers, revenue for counties and jobs for Iowa families.”
Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds, on an overseas trip with an economic development group, added her thoughts: “The announcement shows the level of commitment MidAmerican Energy has for providing an even greater amount of renewable energy to their customers,” said Reynolds. “Companies that we recruit from all over the world cite Iowa’s reliable cost of renewable energy as one of the top reasons for locating in Iowa. This project will go a long way in attracting more high-paying quality jobs to Iowa.”
Company’s goal is 100% renewable energy for Iowa customers
“We have a bold vision for our energy future,” said Bill Fehrman, CEO and president of MidAmerican Energy. “We don’t know of another U.S. energy provider that has staked out this 100% position. Our customers want more renewable energy, and we couldn’t agree more. Once the project is complete, we will generate wind energy equal to 85% of our annual customer sales in Iowa, bringing us within striking distance of our 100% renewable vision.”
Debi Durham, director of the Iowa Economic Development Authority, said wind power supports as many as 7,000 jobs in Iowa. She said the industry’s growth, its cost competitiveness and job creation have been driven by federal wind production tax credits. “Investments of this scale are viable because the federal production tax credits are at their highest level. It makes sense to leverage that benefit to solidify Iowa’s leadership in wind energy. MidAmerican’s announcement continues to build Iowa’s legacy in the renewable energy space and in a very real way, provides economic benefits to all Iowans,” she said.
Big project would generate many economic benefits for Iowa
Fehrman detailed some of the many economic benefits Wind XI will generate in the state: approximately $12.5 million per year in property tax payments, $18 million per year in landowner payments, and $48 million per year in state and local expenditures associated with the project.
MidAmerican Energy has been able to build renewable energy over the past decade while keeping its customer rates among the lowest in the nation, Fehrman said. “Our progress would not have been possible without visionary state leaders and regulators and the tremendous support for renewable energy we have received from our customers, supplier partners and community leaders throughout the state of Iowa. We now have wind farms in operation or under construction in 23 Iowa counties and have partnered with more than 2,400 Iowa landowners and we are prepared to do much more in pursuit of our 100% renewable vision.”
Company has asked IUB to approve the project by September
MidAmerican Energy will work to finalize locations for its Wind XI development while the Iowa Utilities Board considers the project filing request. The company has asked IUB to approve its rate-making principles by September so it can take full advantage of the extended production tax credit (PTC) available for construction of new wind projects.
“Without PTCs to help fund the cost of wind development, Iowans will pay more for building wind turbines in the future,” says Fehrman. “The Wind XI project has been timed to allow MidAmerican Energy to make maximum use of available wind PTCs for the benefit of customers.”
From each of new wind turbines, come new jobs for Iowans
“We are hoping to gain approval for this project from the IUB by September; then we plan to build it over the next few years,” says Fehrman. The company wants everything up and running by 2019. If MidAmerican builds 1,000 new turbines it would make about 85% of its electricity supply renewable, he adds.
Branstad says, “Every wind turbine you see as you travel across Iowa means income to the farmer whose land it is located on, tax revenue to the local governments in the county it is located, and jobs for families who work in the factory to produce the towers, turbines and blades.”