Massive expansion, no net ratepayer cost: Iowa regulators approve, details given for 1 GW MidAmerican wind plan

August 16, 2013

Author(s): Carl Levesque

With an approval from the Iowa Utilities Board in hand, MidAmerican Energy Co. this week shared more details on its plan to add 1,050 more megawatts of wind generation in the Hawkeye State by the end of 2015—a massive expansion that the company notes will stabilize rates and even save customers money.

The $1.9 billion that MidAmerican would spend on the wind energy expansion, which was first announced in May, would make for the largest economic investment in state history, according to Gov. Terry Branstad (R). The company said it continues to work with county officials and landowners and has secured development and interconnection rights for the wind farm sites, which are planned to be located in Grundy, Madison, Marshall, O’Brien and Webster counties. Construction is set to begin next month.

The wind expansion will foster economic development and provide in excess of $360 million in additional property tax revenues over the next 30 years, the company said. Landowner payments totaling more than $3 million per year also are expected as a result of the expansion.

The expansion is expected to have no net cost to the company’s customers and will help stabilize electric rates over the long term by providing a rate reduction totaling $10 million per year by 2017, starting with a $3.3 million reduction in 2015. The rate reduction will begin after MidAmerican Energy installs the first 350 MW of generation capacity. During construction, approximately 460 jobs will be added to the Iowa economy, and nearly 50 new permanent jobs will be added when the expansion is complete. 

By July 2016, the electric generation capability for the investor-owned utility, which is controlled by investment icon Warren Buffet’s company, will comprise a head-turning 39 percent wind. The wind expansion will have no impact on the company’s current Iowa rate case. 

“MidAmerican Energy continues to be a great partner in enhancing the state of Iowa’s leadership in wind generation and expanding our renewable energy portfolio, Gov. Branstad said in his weekly press conference. “This expansion will bring quality jobs and significant economic benefits to Iowa.”