MidAmerican Energy announced a new large-scale wind energy project towards the end of May, dubbed “Wind XII,” which consists of 591 megawatts (MW) worth of new wind capacity in Iowa, and which would propel the company to be the first investor-owned electric utility in the US to generate renewable energy equal to 100% of its customers usage each year.
Wind XII is the newest idea being proposed by Iowa-based energy company MidAmerican Energy. The company is already in the process of developing its Wind XI project — a 2 gigawatt (GW) portfolio of wind energy projects worth $3.6 billion and the largest economic development project in Iowa’s history. Just last month the company announced plans to build two new wind farms under the Wind XI banner in Adair County, worth 550 MW.
On May 30, however, MidAmerican Energy proposed an additional investment of $922 million in the form of the Wind XII project with the Iowa Utilities Board which, if approved, would be completed by late 2020 and consist of 591 MW.
In addition to increasing the amount of wind energy in Iowa and MidAmerican Energy’s reliance on wind energy, the successful completion of Wind XII would ensure that all energy supplied to the company’s customers was sourced from 100% renewable energy.
“Wind XII will transform our 100 percent renewable energy vision from a bold dream into a reality,” explained Adam Wright, MidAmerican Energy’s President and CEO. “We are listening and working with our customers to put them first. Wind XII is a clear demonstration of our commitment to and investment in the cleaner, more sustainable energy future our customers want and our environment deserves. We have been able to invest in renewables while at the same time keeping electric rates affordable for the long term, creating a one-of-a-kind win-win solution.”
Iowa currently ranks as the third largest wind energy state in the United States, only inches behind Oklahoma with just under 8,000 MW installed across the state. Unsurprisingly, Texas is well ahead with almost 23,000 MW.
“Iowans are used to leading the way,” Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds added. “We believe to our core that it is our responsibility to use the resources we are given in the best way possible. It’s that sustainable approach that has led Iowa to achieve the highest percentage of power generation coming from wind energy, more than any other state. And, it doesn’t hurt that we have a company like MidAmerican Energy that has taken the long view and is forward-looking in its goal to provide sustainable and affordable energy to its customers.”
The benefit that wind is bringing to Iowa is not just restricted to clean energy and good intentions, either. MidAmerican Energy predicts that the Wind XII project would bring over 300 full-time jobs related to construction and 28 full-time positions for ongoing operations and maintenance. In addition, Wind XII would provide on average around $6.9 million per year in additional Iowan property tax payments.
“This is an important step forward for our company, our customers and the state of Iowa,” Wright said. “In addition to delivering on our promise to customers, we are also helping to make Iowa a more competitive place to do business – ensuring that our economy continues to grow and thrive. This historic moment is something we are proud to share.”
The news was similarly heralded by the wind industry in the United States.
“When major utilities like MidAmerican Energy double down on wind power it leaves no question that this affordable, reliable energy source has become a mainstay of U.S. electricity production,” said Tom Kiernan, CEO, American Wind Energy Association. “Iowa already sources nearly 37% of total yearly electricity generation from wind, and three other states are over 30% wind. We can continue to expand this homegrown energy resource while keeping costs low for consumers and attracting new middle-class jobs to rural America.”
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