MidAmerican purchases Iowa wind energy sites, selects Siemens’ Fort Madison factory for blades

Source: by Donnelle Eller, Des Moines Register • Posted: Thursday, November 7, 2013

MidAmerican Energy Co. is beginning construction of its $1.9 billion investment in wind energy, with work starting on five sites across the state, the Des Moines-based utility said today.

Earlier this year, the company announced plans to develop up to 1,050 megawatts of additional wind generation in Iowa by the end of 2015.

MidAmerican Energy provided details today about agreements it reached to purchase sites that have been developed for wind farms, and selected wind turbine suppliers and construction companies that will build the farms.

The utility purchased four sites for wind farms. It declined to disclose the purchase prices. The sites are:

– The 500-megawatt Highland wind site in O’Brien County from Highland Wind Energy, an Invenergy Wind company.

– The 250-megawatt Lundgren wind site in Webster County from EDF Renewable Energy.

– The 138.6-megawatt Wellsburg wind project site in Grundy County and 117-megawatt Macksburg wind project site in Madison County from two RPM Access companies

MidAmerican Energy also is adding 44.6 megawatts at its existing Vienna wind farm in Marshall County, constructed in 2012.

Following a competitive process, MidAmerican said it has selected Siemens Energy as the turbine supplier for all project sites. All of the blades for the expansion will be manufactured at Siemens’ Fort Madison facility, while the nacelles will be manufactured at Siemens’ Hutchinson, Kan., facility

Siemens will provide turbines using technology from its 2.3-megawatt, G2 platform for all five projects, MidAmerican said.

The Highland, Macksburg and Wellsburg wind projects will be constructed by Minnesota-based Mortenson Construction, while the Lundgren and MidAmerican Vienna wind projects will be constructed by Wanzek Construction, based in North Dakota.

Once completed, the new wind projects, which will consist of 448 wind turbines, will generate enough electricity to power the equivalent of approximately 317,000 average Iowa households.

“Not only will the projects bring jobs and other economic development to the state, they will enhance MidAmerican Energy’s renewable energy portfolio – making additional affordable, environmentally responsible energy to benefit our customers,” said Bill Fehrman, MidAmerican Energy’s CEO.

The wind expansion will provide more than $3 million in landowner payments each year and more than $360 million in additional property tax revenues over the next 30 years, MidAmerican said in a news release.

The expansion will be constructed at no net cost to the company’s customers and will help stabilize electric rates over the long term, the company said. An estimated 1,000 construction jobs will be added to Iowa’s economy during the two-year construction period, and approximately 40 new permanent jobs will be added when the expansion is complete.

The company began building wind projects in 2004 and, to date, has installed 1,267 wind turbines in Iowa, making MidAmerican the No. 1 rate-regulated utility owner of wind generation in the nation. When the projects are complete, about 39 percent of MidAmerican Energy’s generation portfolio will come from wind resources associated with its 1,715 wind turbines, further strengthening the company’s top ranking.

MidAmerican, Iowa’s largest energy company, provides electric service to 734,000 customers and natural gas service to 714,000 customers in Iowa, Illinois, Nebraska and South Dakota.