MidAmerican Energy completing large O’Brien County wind farm

Source: By Associated Press • Posted: Monday, October 5, 2015

In this photo taken Thursday, Oct. 1, 2015, an old barn is seen next to a wind turbine at the Highland Wind Farm at O'Brien County near Primghar, Iowa/ (Justin Wan/Sioux City Journal via AP) MANDATORY CREDIT

PRIMGHAR, Iowa (AP) – Construction on MidAmerican Energy Company’s massive wind turbine farm in northwest Iowa is expected to finish by year’s end.

MidAmerican Energy project manager Adam Jablonski told the Sioux City Journal that the Highland project will be one of the 10 largest wind farms in the country when it is completed.

Visible from U.S. Highway 59, the farm has erected 214 turbines, each standing more than 263 feet off the ground. The energy company said the farm will have the capacity to generate 502 megawatts of power.

“The more wind power we produce, the less we have to use our coal and natural gas resources,” Jablonski said.

That turbine project has produced a windfall for local businesses that have served hundreds of workers who have been in the area since construction began in 2013.

Jablonski said the farm will pay an estimated $42.5 million in property taxes in O’Brien County in the first 10 years after the project is done. Tom Farnsworth, a member of the O’Brien County Board of Supervisors, said he estimates each turbine will generate an additional $18,000 in property taxes annually that will support local roads and schools.

“It’s going to benefit roads, bridges, the school system. There will be more for townships for their fire departments,” Farnsworth said. “When you put this all together, it’s going to help O’Brien County.”

In August, MidAmerican announced plans for another 104 turbines to be built in the northern part of the county. And it plans to build an additional 134 wind turbines in Ida County.

Both the O’Brien and Ida County projects are expected to be completed by the end of 2016, at which point MidAmerican will have more than 2,000 turbines in 23 Iowa counties.