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MidAmerican completes two new wind farms in Iowa

Iowa currently generates more than one-third of electricity from wind

Wind turbines, part of MidAmerican Energy’s Laurel Project, turn in the wind down 325th Street near Laurel on Wednesday, Dec. 6, 2017. (Stephen Mally/The Gazette)
Wind turbines, part of MidAmerican Energy’s Laurel Project, turn in the wind down 325th Street near Laurel on Wednesday, Dec. 6, 2017. (Stephen Mally/The Gazette)

On its quest for 100 percent renewable energy, MidAmerican Energy has announced the completion of its two latest wind farms, which add to the state’s growing wind energy generation.

The Beaver Creek wind farm in Boone and Greene counties and Prairie wind farm in Mahaska County have begun operation, according to a Monday news release. The two farms, which amount to 169 wind turbines, add 338 megawatts of wind generation capacity to MidAmerican Energy’s grid.

“We’re committed to providing reliable service and outstanding value to our customers, and wind energy accomplishes both,” Mike Fehr, vice president of resource development at MidAmerican Energy, said in the release. “Wind energy is good for our customers, and it’s an abundant, renewable resource that also energizes the economy.”

All told, MidAmerican owns and operates more than 2,000 turbines, making it the largest owner of wind-powered generation among U.S. rate-regulated energy providers, the release states.

The projects are part of MidAmerican’s $3.6 billion, 2,000-megawatt Wind XI project, which is expected to be finished by the close of 2019.

A third site for the Wind XI project, a North English wind farm in Poweshiek County, will be completed next year and add another 340 MW to the grid.

By the end of 2020, MidAmerican expects to produce up to 95 percent of the annual power consumption of its customers with wind. Utility officials eventually hope to reach 100 percent.

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Meanwhile, Alliant Energy, Iowa’s other main energy provider, in December announced its latest wind project — a 170-megawatt wind farm in Poweshiek County. The project will be completed in 2020.

Alliant expects to see a more than threefold increase from the utility’s 300 megawatts of wind power in early 2017 to about one gigawatt by 2020.

Combined, the two utilities expect to bring the state’s wind power total up to nearly 10,000 MW by 2020, compared to less than 1,000 MW in 2006.

Iowa currently generates more than one-third of its electricity from wind power. In 2010, wind made up less than half that — about 16 percent of the state’s power.

In addition, Iowa landowners in 2015 received more than $17 million in lease payments from wind farms. That number is expected to double in the coming years, according to the Iowa Environmental Council.

MidAmerican’s latest two farms are projected to add another $62.4 million in property tax revenues over the next 20 years, the release states.

l Comments: (319) 339-3175; mitchell.schmidt@thegazette.com

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