Renewable sources powered 88.5% of MidAmerican Iowa customers’ energy in 2021

Source: By Donnelle Eller, Des Moines Register • Posted: Tuesday, July 12, 2022

MidAmerican Energy provided 88.5% of customers’ annual power needs from renewable energy last year, the Iowa Utilities Board has verified. That’s five percentage points higher than 2020, according to a Monday news release from the utility.

MidAmerican, owned by Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway, has proposed investing $3.9 billion in additional wind, solar and other renewable energy, with a goal to meet 100% of its customers’ annual power needs with low-carbon sources by 2025.

The Iowa Utilities Board plans to hold a hearing on the request from Oct. 31 through Nov. 4.

Facebook, Google and Microsoft have voiced concerns about the proposed cost of the project, called Wind Prime. And environmentalists say the proposal leans too heavily on wind, MidAmerican’s primary source of renewable energy.

MidAmerican said in its news release Monday it’s investing in solar as well. “While wind energy comprises the largest share of MidAmerican’s renewable energy capacity, earlier this year the company placed in-service 66 megawatts of solar nameplate capacity at six sites, and this year will expand one array by 75 megawatts,” the news release says.

MidAmerican said it’s invested about $14 billion so far in its wind energy fleet at no cost to consumers. At 7,300 megawatts, it’s the largest of any regulated utility in the nation, the company said.

Despite MidAmerican’s investment in wind, the Iowa Environmental Council and other groups have criticized the Des Moines utility for its continued operation of coal-fired generation plants, saying the company could save consumers $1.2 billion by retiring the operations.

More:Tech giants like renewable energy, but question cost of MidAmerican’s $3.9 billion wind, solar plan

MidAmerican said Monday it will need to continue using some fossil fuel for the foreseeable future to ensure reliability. But the company added that its Wind Prime proposal includes plans to investigate emerging no- and low-carbon generation technology, with a goal of reaching net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.

“We are proud to provide our customers with 88.5% renewable energy today, but we aren’t stopping there,” Kelcey Brown, MidAmerican Energy CEO, said in a statement. “We are always planning for the future — and the Wind Prime project is the next step.”

MidAmerican said it paid nearly $36 million in property taxes last year on its wind farms. And it paid rural landowners about $38 million through lease payments.

More:MidAmerican Energy wants to study small nuclear power plants. How would they work?

Donnelle Eller covers agriculture, the environment and energy for the Register. Reach her at or 515-284-8457.