MidAmerican to Invest $1.9 Billion in Iowa Wind Energy

By Jill Kasparie, Reporter

The wind turbine at Kirkwood Community College on Wednesday, March 20, 2013, in southwest Cedar Rapids, Iowa. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette-KCRG)

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By Ellen Kurt

DES MOINES, Iowa – MidAmerican Energy announced a new $1.9 billion investment in the state

It will come in the form of wind energy. The company plans on building another 656 new wind turbines across the state.

MidAmerican already has almost 1,300 turbines around Iowa. Governor Terry Branstad said the new round will likely go in some counties that already have MidAmerican turbines.

"We're very pleased to be expanding our wind fleet in the state of Iowa,” said MidAmerican Energy’s William Fehrman.

Governor Branstad called those words music to his ears.

“We have become known as a state that is a real innovator and leader and wind energy is an exploding field and we're excited about it,” said Governor Terry Branstad.

He said the $1.9 billion project is the largest economic development investment in the state's history.

According to Fehrman the project brings with it about 460 construction jobs over a two-year period and about 50 permanent jobs.

"They are operations and maintenance technicians who will climb the towers, operate the facilities and maintain the facilities,” Fehrman said.

With graduation around the corner, that's likely music to the ears of Kirkwood Community College students working on their degrees in the wind energy field. Governor Branstad also said expanding the state's wind generation capacity is a recipe for drawing in more businesses.

"Companies look to our state's energy profile, energy reliability, business environment, workforce and government responsiveness, before they make significant investment decisions,” Governor Branstad said.

Governor Branstad says Companies like Facebook and Google have already signed up to build and expand in the state. This wind project played a role in those decisions.

While the governor said the announcement would be good for the economy, MidAmerican said this announcement also means money back in the pockets of its customers.

"In our case, this applies to MidAmerican Energy customers, as a result of this project, we are actually able to reduce rates by $10 million by 2017,” Fehrman said

Mid-American said with the new wind energy farms, wind turbines will produce about 40 percent of the energy its customers use.

The company plans to start construction on the 656 turbines this year and finish by the middle of 2015. MidAmerican Leaders expects to make a decision on where they'll place the turbines across the state in the next few months. Governor Branstad said no state funding or tax credits would be used in the project.

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