Des Moines, Iowa-based MidAmerican Energy Company announced that it plans to invest $1.9 billion to install up to 656 new wind turbines in Iowa by 2015 with the intention of adding an additional 1,050 megawatts of wind generation capacity.
This is the biggest investment project in Iowa’s history, and will create 48 permanent jobs and another 460 construction jobs.
The project will generate $360 million in new property tax revenues over 30 years, in addition to annual payments generated for landowners worth $3.2 million.
The exact locations where the turbines will be sited has not been decided, but it will be in areas which already have wind farms.
The expansion increases MidAmerican’s wind power capacity, as a percentage of its total capacity, to 39 percent. The company said the cost of the project will not be transferred to customers in the form of higher rates.
On the contrary, they claim it will help stabilize rates and promised a rate reduction worth $3.3 million in 2015 when the project’s power become available, and ramp that up to a total rate reduction worth $10 million by 2017.
MidAmerican did not receive any tax credits or economic development incentives from Iowa.
It’s notable that this announcement comes so soon after Facebook’s decision to select Altoona, IA as the location for a billion-dollar data center. MidAmerican will be supplying energy to the Facebook data center. The availability of wind energy in Iowa was one of the deciding factors that helped Facebook choose Iowa over a competing site in Kearney, Nebraska.
MidAmerican Energy Company is a subsidiary of MidAmerican Energy Holdings Company, which in turn is controlled by Omaha, Nebraska-based Berkshire Hathaway.
Greg Abel, chairman, president and CEO of MidAmerican Energy Holdings Company, thanked Iowa Governor Terry Branstad and other state officials for creating an environment that allowed them to make this significant investment in Iowa.
He also thanked the state’s congressional delegation for their support of the extension of federal wind energy production tax credit, which Abel said created the opportunity for this investment and maintained the environment that makes such investments in wind energy possible.
Bill Fehrman, president and CEO, MidAmerican Energy Company, said that in addition to cementing Iowa’s position as a leader in wind generation capacity and the rate reductions for customers, the project would also help reduce the company’s own carbon footprint by 10.3 percent.
MidAmerican Energy already has 1,267 wind turbines in Iowa, which represents a total of 2,285 megawatts of wind power generating capacity and $4 billion in investments prior to this latest expansion.