MidAmerican gets OK to build $900 million wind project

Source: Donnelle Eller, Des Moines Register • Posted: Monday, August 24, 2015

MidAmerican Energy can move ahead with its $900 million plan to build up to 552 megawatts of wind energy generation, under an order the Iowa Utilities Board issued Friday.

The board order offers a settlement on how MidAmerican, an investor-owned utility, would be reimbursed from consumers for its investment in the wind energy project, called Wind X.

The settlement proposes the Des Moines-based utility cut by 1.7 percent to $1.61 million the maximum amount that can be spent per megawatt of electricity generated in the project. “This lower cap reduces the risk to customers and provides an incentive to MidAmerican to keep costs low,” the board said its order.

The settlement also would reduce the return on the utility’s investment to 11.35 percent from 11.5 percent, the board said.

The Utilities Board also requires that MidAmerican Energy have a board-approved energy efficiency plan established and that it consider other sources for long-term energy supply.

The view from atop a MidAmerican Energy wind turbine

MidAmerican will have 30 days to decide whether it accepts the settlement. The company said Friday it needed to fully review the order before it could comment.

The company has said it could provide up to 57 percent of its energy to customers from wind with its latest renewable energy project.

Josh Mandelbaum, an attorney for the  Environmental Law & Policy Center, said the project brings “significant economic and environmental benefits to MidAmerican customers and to the state.”

“Projects like Wind X are why Iowa is well-positioned to comply with the Clean Power Plan, while keeping customer rates low,” he said, adding that the group hopes MidAmerican and other utilities pursue more wind energy projects.