MidAmerican Energy pours $3.6B more into wind

Source: By Donnelle Eller, Des Moines Register • Posted: Friday, April 15, 2016

Warren Buffett’s MidAmerican Energy Co. is planning a $3.6 billion wind farm in Iowa with a capacity of 2,000 megawatts, the biggest economic development project in state history.

The Wind XI project won’t increase customer rates and will help the state get more than 40 percent of its electricity from wind resources, Iowa Governor Terry Branstad said in a statement from the company Thursday. MidAmerican is seeking approval for the wind farm with the state’s Utilities Board.

Iowa gets a higher percentage of its electricity from wind than any other state and its largest utility has a goal of producing enough clean energy to supply 100 percent of its needs. As part of a large Midwest grid, Iowa can export excess wind supplies to other states or import supplies during lulls, said Bruce Nilles, director of the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal campaign.

“Wind is always blowing somewhere and this project will benefit the entire region,” Nilles said in a phone interview Thursday. “The beauty of what they’re doing is getting 85 percent of their needs with just wind, which will enable them to shut down remaining coal plants that do nothing for their economy.”

If approved by state regulators, the project will increase Iowa’s total wind resource by 50 percent to 6,000 megawatts when completed in 2020. The Des Moines-based utility expects the wind farms to generate $12.5 million in annual property tax payments, $18 million in landowner payments and $48 million in state and local spending.

The Sierra Club has received funding from Bloomberg Philanthropies, the charitable organization founded by Michael R. Bloomberg, the majority owner of Bloomberg LP.