Wind Energy Gets Another Boost

From the Kansas City Star

MidAmerican Energy Co. and Siemens have reached a deal for the construction of 258 wind turbines in western and central Iowa, the companies announced Tuesday.

The turbines will generate more than 593 megawatts of energy, or enough to power 190,000 homes, the companies said. They’ll be installed in Iowa’s Cass, Adams, Marshall, Calhoun and Adair counties next year.

The turbines will be built at Siemens’ plants in Hutchinson, Kan., and Fort Madison, Iowa.

“Globally, it’s our largest onshore turbine order,” said Monika Wood, a spokeswoman for Germany-based Siemens.

Harold Prior, executive director of the Iowa Wind Energy Association, called the deal “significant” in that it would increase Iowa’s production capacity of 3,760 megawatts by almost 16 percent.

MidAmerican, a subsidiary of Omaha, Neb.-based Berkshire Hathaway, has seven other wind energy projects in Iowa that generate 1,284 megawatts. When the latest five-county project is complete, nearly 33 percent of the company’s total generation capacity will be renewable and nuclear.

Congress’ approval of a one-year investment tax credit and a decision by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission that allows the cost of building wind energy transmission lines to be shared by customers will foster wind energy development in Iowa, Prior predicted.

“It suddenly takes a huge cost off of the wind developer and will facilitate the transmission of wind energy to the north, east, south and west to market Iowa as a producer location,” he said.

Iowa ranks first in the percentage of its electricity generated by the wind at 14.2 percent, according to the American Wind Energy Association.

Sarah Howell, a spokeswoman for the national group, said the industry had its slowest growth since 2007 during the third quarter of this year, in part because of what she described as a lack of national wind energy policy.

Bill Fehrman, MidAmerican Energy President, said the projects provide numerous benefits, including capital investment, construction jobs, long-term maintenance jobs, annual payments to landowners and property tax revenue.

MidAmerican also announced an agreement with RPM Access to buy the company’s wind project near Laurel, Iowa, where 52 of the Siemens turbines will go.


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