MidAmerican Energy plans $900 million wind expansion in Iowa

New wind energy sites not yet disclosed

A view of MidAmerican Energy's Vienna wind project in Tama and Marshall counties from atop the nacelle of one of the win
A view of MidAmerican Energy's Vienna wind project in Tama and Marshall counties from atop the nacelle of one of the wind turbines is shown in an undated photo. (MidAmerican Energy photo)

DES MOINES — MidAmerican Energy announced Friday it has filed plans with the Iowa Utilities Board for the development of up to 552 megawatts of new wind generation in Iowa, representing an additional investment of about $900 million in wind energy.

MidAmerican Energy officials are in the process of obtaining the necessary permits and easements for the construction of wind farms at two new yet-to-be disclosed sites, said David Caris, the company’s vice president of corporate communication.

If the request wins state regulatory approval, the company — with headquarters in Des Moines and 746,000 electric customers and 726,000 natural gas customers in Iowa, Illinois, Nebraska and South Dakota — would plan to begin construction in spring 2016 with completion scheduled for the end of that year.

The addition of the two projects announced Friday would bring MidAmerican’s total wind assets to about 2,000 turbines in 22 Iowa counties, more than 4,000 megawatts of wind generation capacity and a total investment of about $6.7 billion.

Since 2004, MidAmerican Energy has invested about $5.8 billion building wind projects in Iowa, placing it ahead of all other rate-regulated utilities in the nation in terms of wind ownership, according to a company news release.

Bill Fehrman, MidAmerican Energy president and CEO, said in a statement that increasing the company’s investment in wind turbines gives the utility the ability to reduce its reliance on coal, which he said helps protect customers from rising costs associated with meeting stricter environmental standards.

“Once the proposed projects are completed, we’re projecting that 57 percent of our total retail load could be served with energy from these turbines,” Fehrman said. “This puts us in a strong position to comply with future carbon emissions limits without placing the significant financial burden of that compliance on our customers.”

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