MidAmerican Energy plans largest economic development project in Iowa history

MidAmerican Energy has announced plans to build one of the largest wind farms in U.S. history, a 2,000 megawatt (MW) project called Wind XI that would substantially increase revenue streams for communities across Iowa.

Big projects equal big benefits

The company is investing $3.6 billion in Wind XI, making it the largest economic development project in Iowa’s history. When completed, MidAmerican will be able to provide 85 percent renewable energy to its customers in the state, nearing its target of 100 percent.

“Our customers want more renewable energy, and we couldn’t agree more,” said CEO Bill Fehrman.

“MidAmerican’s announcement reaffirms that wind energy is affordable, reliable, and strengthens our energy independence,” explained Josh Mandelbaum, an attorney at the Environmental Law & Policy Center.

Not only will the project allow Iowans to power more of their homes and businesses with clean energy, it will also pump resources into communities while ensuring electricity rates stay low.

Wind XI will pay landowners $18 million a year in lease payments, while increasing annual property tax revenue by $12.5 million. These are resources towns can use to build schools, buy new firetrucks and fix roads.

MidAmerican says it’s building Wind XI without increasing electricity rates and without any assistance from the state.

MidAmerican leads Iowa wind energy development

While Wind XI may be MidAmerican’s largest foray into wind power, it’s far from its first. The company has worked with 2,400 landowners in 23 Iowa counties to build wind farms over the last 12 years. It has invested over $6.5 billion in Iowa wind farms during that time, and currently has nearly 3,500 MW of wind in the state. Wind XI will increase those numbers to more than $10 billion and 5,500 MW.

Families and businesses throughout the Buckeye State have benefitted from this forward-looking approach. Because wind has no fuel costs, MidAmerican has been able to offer its customers stable electricity rates that are 38 percent lower than the national average.

Wind helping Iowa near Clean Power Plan compliance

Wind XI puts Iowa in a strong position to comply with the EPA’s Clean Power Plan, the nation’s first rules designed to reduce carbon pollution from existing power plants. Under the plan, Iowa would need to reduce its power plant carbon dioxide emissions by 42 percent. Studies show that wind power is the biggest, fastest, cheapest way for states to meet the Clean Power Plan’s requirements.

Gov. Terry Branstad noted the project puts Iowa on track to become the first state to generate over 40 percent of its electricity with wind. It became the first and only state to surpass the 30 percent threshold in 2015.

Iowa continues to set an example for other states to follow, showing what can be achieved with policies that foster wind energy growth. It’s created a business environment that allows companies like MidAmerican to create history, helping to remake the country’s energy system in ways that both clean the air and save money.

“MidAmerican made clean energy history today,” said Bruce Nilles, senior director for Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal Campaign. Iowa and MidAmerican’s rapid transition from coal to wind, Nilles said, “offers a game changing new model for how utilities will reach 100 percent renewable energy more quickly than anyone would have predicted.”