Berkshire Hathaway's MidAmerican - Smart Energy Decisions

Energy Procurement, Industrial, Regulation, Utilities, Industrial, Regulation, Sourcing Renewables, Wind  -  April 15, 2016

MidAmerican Energy goes all-in on wind, announces $3.6B project

MidAmerican Energy Co. on April 14 announced plans for a new, $3.6 billion wind project that is expected to add up to 2,000 MW of wind generation in Iowa. 

The utility, which is a subsidiary of Warren Buffet's Berkshire Hathaway Inc., touted the Wind XI project as "a giant step" toward realizing its vision of 100% renewable energy for customers in Iowa. The state is already well-known for its wind resources; about 31% of Iowa's total generation in 2015 came from wind, according to U.S. Energy Information Agency data

"We have a bold vision for our energy future," MidAmerican Energy President and CEO Bill Fehrman said in announcing the project at a news conference alongside Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad. "We don’t know of another U.S. energy provider that has staked out this 100% position."

Fehrman said once the project is complete, wind energy will account for 85% of MidAmerican's annual customer sales in Iowa, putting the company "within striking distance" of achieving it's 100% renewables vision. He added that the goal stems from MidAmerican's customers; the utility has said 91% of those polled said it's important to utilize renewable resources.

The proposed Wind XI plan, which is subject to approval by the Iowa Utilities Board,  is the largest economic development project in the state's history. MidAmerican Energy said the development of additional renewable generation puts it and the state of Iowa in a strong position to comply with carbon emissions limits and other regulatory requirements.

The project, MidAmerican Energy said, can be done without an increase to customer rates or financial assistance from the state to pay for it. The company has asked the utilities board to approve its rate-making principles by September so it can take full advantage of the extended production tax credit available for the construction of new wind projects.

"Without PTCs to help fund the cost of wind development, Iowans will pay more for building wind turbines in the future," the company said in its release. "The Wind XI project has been timed to allow MidAmerican Energy to make maximum use of available wind PTCs for the benefit of customers."

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