Governor Terry Branstad announced Wednesday afternoon that MidAmerican Energy will invest $1.9 billion in wind energy in Iowa. The investment will be the largest single economic investment ever in Iowa- lowering customer electric rates, creating job opportunities, and attracting companies interested in renewable energy.
“As wind energy goes, so does Iowa’s economy,” Gov. Branstad said. “Remember, once they make this investment it will be here for the next 40 or 50 years.”
MidAmerican Energy, an electric utility company that serves 714,000 customers in Iowa, Illinois, Nebraska and South Dakota, said the project will construct up to 656 new wind turbines in Iowa, adding up to 1,050 megawatts of wind generation. At project completion, planned for year-end 2015, MidAmerican Energy will own and operate 3,335 megawatts of wind generation capacity in Iowa- estimated as enough wind generation to supply 40 percent of its power to Iowa customers from wind.
“The proposed wind expansion will not only add to MidAmerican Energy’s and Iowa’s position as a national leader in wind generation capacity, it will help reduce future rates to our customers by as much as $10 million per year and further enhance our corporate principle of environmental respect by reducing our carbon footprint by 10.3 percent,” said Bill Ferhman, president and chief executive officer of MidAmerican Energy.
MidAmerican officials said the project would be built at no net cost to its customers; and the added wind generation will cut customer rates by $3.3 million in 2015, growing to $10 million in annual savings by 2017.
In addition to clean energy development and lowered electricity rates, the project is expected to create 460 construction jobs over the next two years and 48 permanent jobs. Construction jobs will earn a total of $30 million, and permanent jobs will earn $2.4 million annually.
The company plans to pay Iowa landowners $3.2 million annually for land-use rights, and to have more than $360 million in additional property tax revenues over the next 30 years. “This is a tremendous deal for farmers and the tax base of these rural counties,” Gov. Branstad said.
Facebook recently selected Altoona as home to its newest data center and the company suggested the accessibility to renewable energy resources was critical in its selection. This project may attract other companies looking for greener energy options.
MidAmerican will not receive state assistance for this project, but the one-year extension of federal wind production tax credits made the project possible, Mr. Ferhman said. Officials said the expansion project still needs approval from the Iowa Utilities Board before it is official.
For more information in the wind energy investment, visit the following resources:
- MidAmerican Energy will invest $1.9 billion in wind projects in Iowa, Des Moines Register
- MidAmerican announces $1.9 billion investment in additional wind generation capacity, MidAmerican News Room
Press conference video: