$1.9B MidAmerican wind plan could mean more turbines for Carroll area
Investor-owned utility's wind assets clustered around Carroll County where favorable conditions prevail
May 9, 2013
MidAmerican Energy plans to add up to 1,050 megawatts of wind generation, consisting of up to 656 new wind turbines, in Iowa by year-end 2015.
In making the announcement Wednesday of a planned $1.9 billion expansion of wind-power in Iowa, MidAmerican Energy Co. officials said the location of the new turbines would be released in coming months. But William Fehrman, CEO of the investor-owned utility, said reviewing a "good wind map" provides a "good feel" of possible construction areas, according to news accounts.
A map of MidAmerican's wind-generating capacity shows a clustering around Carroll County - meaning if Fehrman's predictions about the company's historic use of wind-mapping data is any indiction, the company is highly likely to erect more turbines in the area. That would mean more money in lease arrangements with landowners and a boost to property taxes for any affected counties.
The Carroll area already factors heavily into MidAmerican's wind production. The company's Carroll Project, completed in 2008, has 100 turbines ringing the northwest part of the city. The Victory Project, in Carroll and Crawford counties, online in 2006, has 66 turbines.
What's more, MidAmerican's Eclipse Project in Audubon and Guthrie counties has 87 turbines. The company's Intrepid Project, in Sac and Buena Vista counties, has 122 turbines, and the Pomeroy project, in Calhoun and Pocahontas counties, has 184 turbines.
Abby Bottenfield, a spokesperson for MidAmerican, said in an interview this morning that the company is doing its "due diligence" in scouting locations and will have more specific information available in weeks.
"We are exploring all of our options throughout the state," Bottenfield said.
That considered, Bottenfield said the company's existing substantial wind-energy footprint of 1,267 wind turbines in Iowa is based on studies of where the most favorable conditions exist for wind-energy production.
MidAmerican plans to add up to 1,050 megawatts of wind generation, consisting of up to 656 new wind turbines, in Iowa by year-end 2015, Bottenfield said.
That capacity could power about 300,000 homes, she said.
The wind expansion is expected to enhance economic development and provide in excess of $360 million in additional property-tax revenues over the next 30 years. Landowner payments totaling $3.2 million per year also are expected as a result of the expansion.
MidAmerican Energy began building wind projects in 2004, representing a total investment of approximately $4 billion. MidAmerican Energy estimates that by January 2016, when all new wind generation is expected to be operating, it may be capable of generating approximately 39 percent of its retail generation output through wind generation during that month, Bottenfield said.
The company predicts benefits to ratepayers as well.
"The proposed wind expansion will not only add to MidAmerican Energy's and Iowa's position as a national leader in wind generation capacity, it will help reduce future rates to our customers by as much as $10 million per year and further enhance our corporate principle of environmental respect by reducing our carbon footprint by 10.3 percent," Fehrman said in a news release.
If the expansion is approved by the Iowa Utilities Board, MidAmerican Energy will own and operate approximately 3,335 megawatts of wind-generation capacity in Iowa by year-end 2015. Currently, MidAmerican Energy owns and operates approximately 2,285 megawatts of wind generation capacity in Iowa and is No. 1 in the U.S. for ownership of wind-generation capacity among rate-regulated utilities.
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