Advancing Iowa's Largest Wind Project
by Nathaniel Baer on Thursday, June 30, 2016
When MidAmerican Energy proposed a project to build 2,000 megawatts of wind energy in April, known as Wind XI, the Council applauded the announcement and the clear economic and environmental opportunity the project presents to extend Iowa’s clean energy leadership. The announcement was also lauded by state leaders including Iowa Governor Terry Branstad and Iowa Economic Development Authority Director Debi Durham. Following the announcement, MidAmerican submitted a detailed proposal to the Iowa Utilities Board (IUB) for approval, requesting a final decision on the project by September.
The Council and its partners at the Environmental Law & Policy Center jointly intervened in the Wind XI docket, reviewed hundreds of pages of filings, and submitted testimony in support of MidAmerican’s proposal last week. Our joint testimony included comments from three witnesses: myself (the Council’s Energy Program Director Nathaniel Baer; Tom Wind, president of Wind Utility Consulting; and Des Moines Mayor Frank Cownie.
Mayor Cownie’s testimony emphasized how Wind XI would help Des Moines meet sustainability and carbon reduction goals and support economic development. Wind’s testimony included an evaluation of the capacity factor that MidAmerican plans to achieve with Wind XI (capacity factors include overall energy production, performance and cost evaluations), providing a convincing case to show the project would achieve its stated goal. Baer’s testimony evaluated how Wind XI would position MidAmerican to not just comply with the state’s Clean Power Plan carbon pollution reduction goal, but also go beyond compliance to offer opportunities to sell excess credits to other states or utilities to help them meet their own reduction goals – a boon to Iowa’s economy, job market and communities. Baer’s testimony also supported Wind XI’s role in Iowa’s clean energy future and its function to improve the diversity of wind energy supplied across Iowa.
A number of other parties representing diver interests have also intervened in the docket. Most parties filed testimony last week as well, including Alliant Energy, a group of data centers (Facebook, Microsoft, Google), and a group of industrial energy users called the Iowa Business Energy Coalition (IBEC). On Tuesday, MidAmerican filed its final round of testimony in response to the various interveners. While no party appears to have explicitly opposed Wind XI, the changes recommended by several interveners, including the data centers and IBEC, could cause Wind XI to be smaller or, at worst, not be built at all. We will continue to review the testimony, evaluate the issues in the docket and advocate for moving forward with building the full 2,000 MW. A public hearing is scheduled for mid-August and an order is expected from the IUB by late September.
- wind power
- wind tax credits