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Alliant gets approval for latest 500 MW wind project

State expected to generate 10,000 MW from wind by 2020 as major projects continue

Geese fly beyond the wind turbine at Kirkwood Community College in Cedar Rapids on Thursday, Dec. 14, 2017. (Rebecca F. Miller/The Gazette)
Geese fly beyond the wind turbine at Kirkwood Community College in Cedar Rapids on Thursday, Dec. 14, 2017. (Rebecca F. Miller/The Gazette)

CEDAR RAPIDS — Alliant Energy has been given the green light to increase the utility’s wind expansion efforts by another 500 megawatts.

Combined with ongoing wind expansion in western Iowa, Alliant officials said they expect to add 1,000 megawatts of wind energy — enough to power 430,000 Iowa homes — by 2020.

When complete, Alliant’s wind energy production would equal about one-third of the utility’s total Iowa capacity.

The Iowa Utilities Board on Tuesday gave final approval to Alliant’s proposed $890 million New Wind II project.

Work began this spring on Alliant’s Upland Prairie Wind Farm in Clay and Dickinson counties. Later this year, construction is expected to begin on English Farms Wind Farm in Poweshiek County.

All told, Alliant officials said they plan to invest $1.8 billion in renewable energy by the end of 2020.

“Our wind energy initiatives help keep rates competitive, enhance our environmental stewardship and drive economic growth in our communities,” Doug Kopp, president of Alliant Energy’s Iowa energy company, said in a Tuesday news release. “Wind energy is a major part of our transition to a clean energy future.”

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MidAmerican Energy, the state’s other main utility, last year began construction at the first two sites of its $3.6 billion, 2,000-megawatt Wind XI project. The 168-megawatt Prairie and 170-megawatt Beaver Creek projects, are located in Mahaska County and Boone and Greene counties, respectively.

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

MidAmerican’s Wind XI project, which includes upgrades to more than 700 older turbines to increase energy production, is anticipated to be complete near the end of 2019.

At the project’s close, MidAmerican officials said they will produce up to 95 percent of the annual power consumption of its customers with wind. Utility officials eventually hope to reach 100 percent.

Combined, Iowa’s two main 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.

l Comments: (319) 398-8309; mitchell.schmidt@thegazette.com

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