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MidAmerican Energy is filing a request with the Iowa Utilities Board to build Wind XI, a project that will add up to 2,000 MW of wind energy in Iowa.
The proposed $3.6 billion project is the largest wind project MidAmerican Energy has ever undertaken, and it’s being done without asking for an increase in customer rates or financial assistance from the state to pay for it.
“We have a bold vision for our energy future,” said Bill Fehrman, CEO and president of MidAmerican Energy. “We don’t know of another U.S. energy provider that has staked out this 100 percent position. Our customers want more renewable energy, and we couldn’t agree more. Once the project is complete, we will generate wind energy equal to 85 percent of our annual customer sales in Iowa, bringing us within striking distance of our 100 percent renewable vision.”
The announcement came at a news conference attended by Gov. Terry Branstad and Debi Durham, director of the Iowa Economic Development Authority. The proposed $3.6 billion Wind XI plan is the largest economic development project in the state’s history. The development of additional renewable generation puts MidAmerican Energy and the state of Iowa in a strong position to comply with carbon emissions limits and other regulatory requirements.
Branstad said he is proud of MidAmerican Energy’s long-standing and ongoing commitment to clean energy, which has helped make Iowa a national leader in renewable energy.
“Wind XI puts Iowa on track to be the first state in the nation to generate more than 40 percent of its energy needs from wind power – far ahead of any other state. Today, Iowa is the only state to have crossed the 30 percent mark,” Branstad said. “We welcome this opportunity to expand Iowa’s renewable energy and thank MidAmerican Energy for making this investment in our great state. Every wind turbine you see in Iowa means income for farmers, revenue for counties and jobs for Iowa families.”
Director Durham added that wind power supports as many as 7,000 jobs in Iowa. She said the industry’s growth, its cost competitiveness and job creation have been driven by the wind production tax credits.
“Investments of this scale are viable because federal production tax credits are at their highest level. It makes sense to leverage that benefit to solidify Iowa’s leadership in wind energy. Today’s announcement continues to build Iowa’s legacy in the renewable energy space – and in a very real way, provides economic benefits to all Iowans,” Durham said.
Fehrman detailed some of the many economic benefits Wind XI will generate in the state: approximately $12.5 million per year in property tax payments, $18 million per year in landowner payments, and $48 million per year in state and local expenditures associated with the project.
MidAmerican Energy has been able to build renewable energy over the past decade while keeping its customer rates among the lowest in the nation, Fehrman said. “Our progress would not have been possible without visionary state leaders and regulators and the tremendous support for renewable energy we have received from our customers, supplier partners and community leaders throughout the state of Iowa. We now have wind farms in operation or under construction in 23 Iowa counties and have partnered with more than 2,400 Iowa landowners – and we are prepared to do much more in pursuit of our 100 percent renewable vision.”
MidAmerican Energy will work to finalize locations for its Wind XI development while the Iowa Utilities Board considers the project filing request. The company has asked the IUB to approve its rate-making principles by September so it can take full advantage of the extended production tax credit available for the construction of new wind projects. Without PTCs to help fund the cost of wind development, Iowans will pay more for building wind turbines in the future. The Wind XI project has been timed to allow MidAmerican Energy to make maximum use of available wind PTCs for the benefit of customers.
MidAmerican Energy completed its first wind farm in 2004. Since then, the energy company has built 3,450 megawatts of wind energy. The company has invested $6.6 billion over the last 12 years building wind projects in Iowa; with the construction of Wind XI, that figure will climb to more than $10 billion in overall wind investment, all with minimal impact to customer costs.
The benefits of renewable energy include:
· Low power rates for customers. Unlike coal or natural gas, renewable energy has no fuel costs associated with it. Savings on fuel costs, along with production tax credits, have made wind an economical option that helps MidAmerican Energy keep prices stable and more affordable over the long term. MidAmerican Energy’s average retail prices in Iowa are seventh-lowest in the U.S. – approximately 38 percent below the national average.
· A cleaner environment. Wind farms produce clean, carbon-free energy that consumers and businesses want. The development of additional renewable generation will put MidAmerican Energy and the state of Iowa in a strong position to comply with carbon emissions limits and other regulatory requirements without placing the financial burden of compliance on customers.
· Stronger communities. Wind projects create construction jobs and permanent jobs in rural communities across the state. Additionally, wind farms provide millions of dollars annually in lease payments to landowners and property tax revenue that benefits schools and counties.
· A more vibrant economy. Iowa is already known as a leader in renewable energy. Additional development of renewable resources will spur further growth of the state’s wind and solar industries. The renewable energy landscape in Iowa has already attracted businesses like Facebook, Google and Microsoft – further development will continue to encourage businesses to locate and expand in Iowa.