MidAmerican wraps up four of five projects in its Wind VIII program

MidAmerican Energy said Jan. 12 that it has completed work on four of the five wind farms that make up its 1,050-MW Wind VIII project – the largest economic development project in Iowa history.

The three wind farms completed in 2014 – Lundgren in Webster County, Macksburg in Madison County and Wellsburg in Grundy County – account for a total of 511.4 MW of capacity, to go along with the 44.6 MW capacity at the Vienna II wind farm in Marshall County, which was completed in 2013. The final piece of the Wind VIII project – the 495-MW Highland wind farm in O’Brien County – will be finished by the end of 2015.

The following projects were placed in-service in 2014:

  • Lundgren – 107 turbines, 251 MW;
  • Macksburg – 51 turbines, 119.6 MW; and
  • Wellsburg – 60 turbines, 140.8 MW.

The Wind VIII project utilizes Siemens’ 2.3-MW wind turbines. All of the blades for the expansion are manufactured at Siemens’ Fort Madison, Iowa, facility, while the hubs and nacelles are manufactured at Siemens’ Hutchinson, Kan., facility.

“With more than half the turbines in our Wind VIII project up and running, we’ve reached a major milestone in the development of another sustainable energy solution for our customers,” said Adam Wright, vice president, wind generation and development for MidAmerican Energy. “By 2016, we’ll be able to produce enough energy from wind to meet the equivalent of approximately half of the electricity needs of our retail customers.”

The Wind VIII project, announced in May 2013, represents an investment by MidAmerican Energy of up to $1.9bn. With the addition of Wind VIII’s 448 turbines at the five wind farm sites, the company’s wind generation fleet will expand to 1,715 turbines.

“We are extremely proud of our progress over the last decade in the development of wind energy,” Wright said. “We constructed our first wind farm in 2004, and today MidAmerican Energy is a national leader in wind generation.”

MidAmerican Energy’s investment in wind energy – by 2016 the company will have spent nearly $6bn on wind projects – has helped make Iowa the nation’s leader in the percentage of energy derived from wind. Both Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad and Lieutenant Gov. Kim Reynolds have championed wind as an integral component of Iowa’s energy future and a competitive advantage in attracting major tech companies such as GoogleMicrosoft and Facebook to build facilities in the state.

Wright foresees a bright future for wind generation. “Our customers want more non-carbon energy sources,” he said. “Wind is a key element of MidAmerican Energy’s balanced approach to energy generation, and can be a factor in helping us reduce our carbon intensity and meet more stringent environmental standards. Our decade of investment in wind projects has been good for our customers, good for the environment and good for the state of Iowa.”

MidAmerican Energy provides electric service to 739,000 customers and natural gas service to 719,000 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.