Bioenergy, Project Development, Wind Power

Field of Wind Planned for Iowa

If a large mid-west utility’s plan goes through, wind turbines will soon sprout from the fertile corn fields of Iowa. MidAmerican Energy Company plans to build 310 MW of wind energy generation at an as yet unknown location here.

Des Moines, Iowa – March 26, 2003 [] MidAmerican also announced a plan to freeze its Iowa electric rates through 2010, while developing and constructing the US$323 million wind project and two fossil fuel-based generation facilities. MidAmerican Energy is a unit of MidAmerican Energy Holdings Co., majority-owned by Warren Buffett’s holding company Berkshire Hathaway Inc. Information from the Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratories shows MidAmerican’s new wind project will be the largest land-based wind energy installation in the world. The project will consist of 180 to 200 wind turbines, each generating approximately 1.5 to 1.65 MW. A site has yet to be selected, but the facilities are expected to be located in the northwest or north-central portion of the state. The project also will require investment in associated energy transmission facilities. The first units are expected to come on-line by the end of 2004. The project should be completed by the end of 2006. “This is another significant investment by MidAmerican in Iowa’s energy future,” said Greg Abel, president of MidAmerican Energy Holdings Company. “This project will bring additional Renewable Energy to Iowans while extending rate stability for our customers. We are adding Renewable Energy to our diversified generation mixture in a way that makes sense for our customers, our company and the state.” Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack has stated his goal for Iowa to become energy independent and to develop into a national leader in Renewable Energy. The governor labeled MidAmerican’s announcement a huge step toward achieving both goals. Although wind is an intermittent generation source, 310 MW of wind capacity provides enough electricity on average to power approximately 85,000 homes. “I have challenged regulators, business professionals and utility companies in Iowa to work toward achieving 1,000 MW of Renewable Energy by 2010, which will require the addition of more than 500 MW of Renewable Energy facilities,” Vilsack said. “I am pleased that MidAmerican is taking a leadership role in that effort.” MidAmerican’s Iowa customers have not seen an electric base rate increase since 1995. The proposed rate freeze means customers would go a minimum of 15 years with stable electric rates. When the wind project is complete, MidAmerican Energy will own or have under contract in Iowa more than 435 MW of wind, biomass or hydropower energy – or 43 percent of Vilsack’s goal of 1,000 MW of renewables. Iowa currently produces more than 400 MW of Renewable Energy. MidAmerican also expects to invest up to an additional US$300 million in environmental improvements to existing coal-fueled generating plants during the next seven years as part of the company’s compliance with President Bush’s Clear Skies Initiative. MidAmerican’s parent, MidAmerican Energy Holdings Company’s existing Renewable Energy portfolio consists of approximately 15 percent of its net-owned generation portfolio around the globe. In addition, a 185 MW project under development in Southern California’s Imperial Valley will be the largest geothermal steam turbine operation in the United States. The company’s worldwide renewable power sources are wind, geothermal, hydroelectric and biomass. For MidAmerican to go forward with the wind project as planned, it must receive regulatory approvals and acceptable ratemaking rulings from the Iowa Utilities Board. Facilitating legislation also must be passed.