MidAmerican Project Will Secure Iowa Wind Leadership

posted by Nathaniel Baer on Thursday, April 14, 2016

Wind Turbines

The Council applauds today’s wind energy announcement by MidAmerican Energy, which will help secure Iowa’s leadership position on wind energy in coming years and bring the many economic and environmental benefits of wind energy to additional Iowans.

MidAmerican has proposed building 2,000 megawatts (MW) of wind energy, a wind project known as Wind XI. As the name indicates, this proposal is MidAmerican’s eleventh wind project and follows recent wind projects that have helped establish Iowa’s leadership position on wind energy, including Wind VIII in 2013 (1,050 MW), Wind IX in 2014 (162 MW) and Wind X in 2015 (552 MW).

MidAmerican’s proposal positions the utility to use the full value of the federal production tax credit, which was extended by legislation passed by Congress and signed by President Obama in December and phases out over the next several years. The Council and many of our partners supported the extension of the federal PTC and hoped it would result in wind project announcements exactly like this.

MidAmerican’s proposal also positions the utility well to comply with the Clean Power Plan. The Council’s analysis on compliance for Iowa’s modest carbon pollution reduction target indicates that continued energy efficiency programs along with wind additions ranging from 1,500 MW to 2,500 MW would be enough to bring Iowa into compliance by 2030. While more analysis is needed on the impact of this specific proposal, we anticipate it will go a long way towards bringing MidAmerican into compliance. 

Iowa’s national wind energy leadership from 6,212 MW of wind developed to date can be counted by a number of metrics: 

  • #1 in percentage of electricity from wind (31.3% in 2015)

  • #2 in installed capacity of wind (6,212 MW)

  • #2 in land lease payments to landowners that host wind turbines, most or all of whom are rural landowners

  • #1 in the Midwest for wind jobs

The economic and environmental benefits from wind are clear and compelling in Iowa and this project will extend those benefits to more Iowans. Wind energy provides more than $17 million in land lease payments to landowners annually, supports between 6,000 and 7,000 jobs in Iowa, and is a leading source of property taxes in counties with significant wind development. Wind is also a low cost energy resource and one of Iowa’s leading options for cleaner air.

If this project is approved and constructed over the next few years, it will keep Iowa on a path to exceed 40% wind energy and reach 10,000 MW of installed wind by 2020. It will also put MidAmerican on a path towards 100% renewable energy. These are significant milestones on Iowa’s  transition to clean energy from fossil fuels.

Iowa has plenty of wind energy potential – over 570,000 MW. Just over 1% of that potential has been developed to date. We are excited about today’s MidAmerican announcement and the trajectory it puts us on in future years. 

  1. clean energy
  2. clean power plan
  3. wind power
  4. wind tax credits

About The Author

Nathaniel joined the Council in 2007. He researches and advocates for policies to expand solar, wind, transmission and energy efficiency, and coordinates the Council’s coalition of allies on energy and climate issues. Nathaniel currently serves on the Midwest Power Sector Collaborative, a s ... read more