DES MOINES, Iowa --- Hundreds of new MidAmerican Energy wind turbines will be sprouting up in five Iowa counties soon as part of a $1.9 billion project that will generate up to 1,050 megawatts of power in Iowa by 2015, Gov. Terry Branstad said Monday.

The 448 turbines will be erected at locations in Grundy, Madison, Marshall, O’Brien and Webster counties, with construction of the wind farms slated to begin next month, the governor told his weekly news conference.

Branstad said the project – the largest economic development investment in state history -- will create about 460 construction jobs over two years with an estimated payroll of $30 million and 48 permanent jobs with a $2.4 million payment, and an overall economic impact for Iowa that includes about $360 million in additional property tax revenue for local governments over the next 30 years, as well as payments of up to $3.2 million annually to farmers for the use of their land.

“We’re excited about that,” Branstad said. “This is a huge project and obviously it’s a win-win for everybody: for the environment, for the farmers, for the customers and for the people who get jobs in the construction and eventually in overseeing the maintenance of the wind farms.”

Since 2004, MidAmerican has installed 1,267 wind turbines in Iowa representing a total investment of about $4 billion and making it the largest rate-regulated utility owner of wind generation in the United States.

With the project’s approval last Friday by the Iowa Utilities Board, MidAmerican Energy is on track to own and operate about 3,335 megawatts of wind generation capacity in Iowa by the end of 2015. The company currently owns and operates about 2,285 megawatts of wind generation capacity in Iowa.

MidAmerican Energy Company, 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. It is headquartered in Des Moines.

“The best way to meet our customers’ energy needs is to provide reliable, affordable and environmentally responsible energy through a diversified generation portfolio,” said Bill Fehrman, president and CEO, MidAmerican Energy. “The wind expansion will help stabilize electric rates over the long term for our customers and also demonstrates MidAmerican Energy’s commitment to lessen the environmental impact created by the process of electrical generation.”

The company continues working with county officials and landowners and has secured development and interconnection rights for the wind farm sites, MidAmerican officials said. Construction is expected to begin in September 2013, and all projects are planned for completion prior to the end of 2015.

“We are thankful for the support the governor’s office, legislators and regulatory agencies have provided for our wind generation development,” Fehrman added. “Working together, we have enhanced Iowa’s economy and helped meet the growing customer demand for electricity through renewable energy generation.”

The electric generation capability for MidAmerican Energy will comprise about 39 percent wind, 33 percent coal, 18 percent natural gas, 6 percent nuclear, and 4 percent other by July 2016. The wind expansion will have no impact on the company’s current Iowa rate case.

Statehouse reporter for The Courier

(1) comment


Is anyone else out there of the opinion that "enough is enough" with wind farms? The power companies will not be satisfied until every view of Iowa's open horizons is filled with wind turbines. Who are these landowners that would sell their souls for the rent for putting these eyesores on their property?

Branstad lauds this as "jobs creation", but the fact is that most of the wind turbine installers and maintainers are specialty out of state companies. Plus, the electricity generated from these wind farms is largely sold to power companies out of state. Tell me again, what the benefit is to Iowans, other than to look at landscapes cluttered with countless wind turbines?

There is a trend here that involves the loss of Iowa's picturesque open views. Wind farms and the "Rock Island Clean Line" (Google it), threaten to make clutterfree Iowa sunsets a thing of the past. But of course there's no financial profit to be made off of a beautiful Iowa summer sunset.

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