With the completion of the Highland wind farm in O’Brien County and the Adams wind farm in Adams County, MidAmerican Energy Co. has wrapped up work on two major projects in Iowa totaling more than 1.2 GW of wind generation.
The Highland wind farm, which was placed in service on Dec. 3, 2015, is the fifth and final piece of MidAmerican Energy’s Wind VIII project – the utility’s largest wind project to date. On Jan. 30, 2016, the company completed its Wind IX project when the Adams wind farm was placed in service.
Together, Wind VIII and Wind IX bring MidAmerican Energy’s total wind generation capacity to nearly 3.5 GW, an amount that represents about 42% of the company’s installed generation capacity.
Mike Gehringer, MidAmerican Energy’s vice president of renewable energy, says the completion of the two projects marks a significant milestone for the utility.
“Slightly more than 10 years ago, MidAmerican Energy didn’t own any wind energy generation,” explains Gehringer. “As a company, we committed to develop wind as a resource for our customers. Today, wind makes up the largest share of our generation portfolio, and we project that by 2017, we will generate an amount equal to 57 percent of our total retail load with clean, non-carbon energy from our wind projects in Iowa.”
Gehringer also says the fact that wind is a free and abundant source of energy in Iowa helps MidAmerican Energy maintain low electricity rates for customers while meeting environmental goals.
“Our investment in wind farms has put us in a strong position to comply with future environmental requirements without placing significant financial burden for that compliance on customers,” he remarks.
MidAmerican Energy says construction of its wind projects has spurred economic development in Iowa, creating thousands of construction jobs and almost 200 permanent jobs. Over the next 30 years, the company claims the wind projects will generate more than $1.5 billion in lease payments to landowners and property tax payments to schools, cities and counties.
“Without a doubt, our investment in wind projects has been good for our customers, good for communities, good for the environment and good for the state of Iowa,” concludes Gehringer.