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Published on August 14th, 2013 | by Silvio Marcacci


Iowa Will Add 1.05GW New Wind Energy Capacity By 2015

August 14th, 2013 by  

Iowa will add 1.05 gigawatts of new wind energy capacity by 2015, thanks to the Iowa Utilities Board’s approval of a $1.9 billion proposal from MidAmerican Energy.

Regulatory approval of the Wind VII project paves the way for construction to start as soon as September 2013. The wind farm sites have already secured development and grid interconnection rights, and will bring hundreds of green jobs and millions in revenue to landowners and the government.

MidAmerican’s proposal, first announced in May 2013, will build 448 new wind turbines across Madison, Marshall, Grundy, O’Brien, and Webster counties without any increase in customer rates or any state funding.

Largest Economic Development Investment In Iowa’s History

In fact, the economic benefits of Wind VII may actually outweigh the environmental aspects. The project will create 460 construction jobs and an estimated payroll of $30 million over two years. Once built, the turbines will support 48 permanent green jobs and an estimated $2.4 million payroll.

With time, Wind VII will cut electricity bills for MidAmerican ratepayers. The utility is Iowa’s largest, with roughly 734,000 electric service customers, and the expansion will be built at no net cost to customers. After the first 350 megawatts of new generation capacity are installed, a $3.3 million rate reduction will take effect. By 2017, the rate reduction will increase to $10 million per year.

Midwest wind farm

Midwest wind farm image via Shutterstock

MidAmerican’s turbines will also boost local economies, with $360 million in property tax revenue for local governments over 30 years and up to $3.2 million in annual payments to farmers for use of their land. But in addition to strengthening local economies, Wind VII could help expand Iowa’s green economy.

Few states have benefitted more from the expansion of wind energy more than Iowa. Wind employs 7,000 workers statewide, generates more than $16 million in annual lease payments, and has attracted nearly $10 billion dollars in capital funding for wind farms and manufacturing facilities (with up to $10 billion in expected investment), according to the Iowa Wind Energy Association.

“We regularly speak with companies who are looking for green renewable energy and MidAmerican’s efforts are helping us market Iowa in recruiting new jobs,” said Lt. Governor Kim Reynolds. “Not only is this the largest economic development investment in Iowa’s history, it’s a great story for us to share with potential businesses.”

The state currently ranks third in the US with 5,133 megawatts of installed capacity and first among all states with wind contributing 25.3% of all in-state electricity generation, according to a recent DOE report – enough to power roughly 1.3 million homes.

Diversified Generation Makes Economic Sense

Once Wind VII is completed, wind energy will generate approximately 39% of MidAmerican’s electric generation capacity – 6% more than coal’s share and more than twice natural gas. This is a rapid switch from the end of 2011, when coal provided 47% of the state’s energy compared to wind’s 26% at, and stands as testament to the economic promise of green energy.

“The best way to meet our customers’ energy needs is to provide reliable, affordable, and environmentally responsible through a diversified generation portfolio,” said Bill Fehrman, president and CEO of MidAmerican.  “Working together, we have enhanced Iowa’s economy and helped meet growing customer demand for electricity through renewable energy generation.”

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About the Author

Silvio is Principal at Marcacci Communications, a full-service clean energy and climate policy public relations company based in Oakland, CA.

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