Construction starts on five new wind projects of MidAmerican Energy

Iowa-based MidAmerican Energy said Nov. 6 that construction has begun on a new round of 1,050 MW in total of new wind energy projects.

Earlier this year, the company announced plans to develop up to 1,050 MW of additional wind generation in Iowa by the end of 2015. Construction is now underway at each of the five project sites.

MidAmerican Energy recently reached an agreement with Highland Wind Energy LLC, an Invenergy Wind LLC company, for the acquisition of the approximate 500-MW Highland wind project site in O’Brien County.

Agreements also were reached with EDF Renewable Energy for the acquisition of the approximate 250-MW Lundgren wind project site in Webster County, and also with two RPM Access LLC companies for the acquisitions of the approximate 138.6-MW Wellsburg wind project site in Grundy County and the approximate 117-MW Macksburg wind project site in Madison County.

In addition, MidAmerican Energy’s existing Vienna wind farm, constructed in 2012, is being expanded by 44.6 MW in Marshall County (called the Vienna II wind project).

After the conclusion of a competitive tender process, MidAmerican Energy has selected Siemens Energy as the turbine supplier for all project sites. All of the blades for the expansion will be manufactured at Siemens’ Fort Madison, Iowa, facility, while the nacelles will be made at Siemens’ Hutchinson, Kan., facility. Siemens will provide turbines utilizing technology from its 2.3-MW G2 platform for all five projects. The contract also includes a service, maintenance and warranty agreement.

The Highland, Macksburg and Wellsburg wind projects will be constructed by Mortenson Construction, which is based in Minnesota, while the Lundgren and Vienna II wind projects will be built by Wanzek Construction, which is based in North Dakota.

Once complete, the new wind projects, which will consist of 448 wind turbines, will generate enough electricity to power the equivalent of about 317,000 average Iowa households.

“We look forward to continuing positive relationships with state and county officials as well as landowners and other local residents during the construction and operation of the new wind farms,” said Bill Fehrman, president and CEO, MidAmerican Energy. “Not only will the projects bring jobs and other economic development to the state, they will enhance MidAmerican Energy’s renewable energy portfolio – making additional affordable, environmentally responsible energy to benefit our customers.”

The wind expansion will be constructed at no net cost to the company’s customers and will help stabilize electric rates over the long term. Around 1,000 construction jobs will be added to Iowa’s economy during the two-year construction period, and about 40 new permanent jobs will be added when the expansion is complete.

On Aug. 9, the Iowa Utilities Board approved an agreement between MidAmerican Energy and the Office of Consumer Advocate granting state approval to proceed with the wind expansion.

Notable is that construction started on these projects before the end-of-2013 construction start deadline under the federal production tax credit program for renewable energy projects.

MidAmerican began building wind projects in 2004 and, to date, has installed 1,267 wind turbines in Iowa, making it the No. 1 rate-regulated utility owner of wind generation in the U.S. When these new projects are complete by year-end 2015, about 39% of MidAmerican’s generation portfolio will come from wind resources associated with its 1,715 wind turbines.

MidAmerican, Iowa’s largest energy company, provides electric service to 734,000 customers and natural gas service to 714,000 customers in Iowa, Illinois, Nebraska and South Dakota. It is headquartered in Des Moines, Iowa.

About Barry Cassell 20414 Articles
Barry Cassell is Chief Analyst for GenerationHub covering coal and emission controls issues, projects and policy. He has covered the coal and power generation industry for more than 24 years, beginning in November 2011 at GenerationHub and prior to that as editor of SNL Energy’s Coal Report. He was formerly with Coal Outlook for 15 years as the publication’s editor and contributing writer, and prior to that he was editor of Coal & Synfuels Technology and associate editor of The Energy Report. He has a bachelor’s degree from Central Michigan University.