A “green” project may be popping up out of the green fields of northeastern Pottawattamie County this summer.
MidAmerican Energy is looking at the area as a site to build 64 wind turbines, a project that county officials said could be worth more than $120 million and generate about 96 megawatts of electricity.
The Pottawattamie County Board of Supervisors will schedule a public hearing on tax incentives for the project in the next few weeks. If the proposal is approved, construction could begin sometime this summer.
County board member Delbert King said he thought the project would be worth more than $120 million, with each tower costing about $2 million. The area being considered, King said, is outside Walnut. It would be leased from landowners.
Names of landowners involved in the proposed project have not been released.
King said the county has not heard any public opposition to the project, and MidAmerican spokesman Mark Reinders said the company hasn’t encountered public opposition on other projects.
The ordinance that will go before the County Board calls for MidAmerican to pay no property taxes on the equipment for the first year, then 5 percent of the assessed value in the second year. The tax amount would increase by 5 percentage points each subsequent year until it reaches 30 percent, which will be the maximum amount.
Officials for MidAmerican said the area is one of several sites under consideration around the state.
MidAmerican Energy has been increasing the amount of electricity it generates from wind since 2003. By the end of this year, MidAmerican expects to have more than 780 wind turbines operating in the state, including the proposed turbines in Pottawattamie County.
In January, 142 wind turbines went into service, most in north-central Iowa. Another 260 wind turbines are being built near Carroll, Pomeroy and Adair, said Tom Budler, general manager of wind development for MidAmerican. They are expected to be running by the end of the year.
MidAmerican Energy expects to generate about 18 percent of its electricity from renewable energy sources by the end of this year.
The turbines can create energy anytime the wind blows at 8 to 40 mph, with the optimal speed being about 25 mph.
Budler said wind energy is part of the company’s portfolio and helps mitigate the rising cost of fuel and the amount of emissions. Wind energy projects are part of the reason MidAmerican has not raised rates since 1995, he said.
Budler said MidAmerican currently has a number of projects under development, based on the availability of turbines.
“If turbines become available, we want to use them,” he said.
Iowa generates more wind energy than all but three other states despite being 10th in the nation in the amount of wind resource available, Budler said.
By Jason Kuiper
World-Herald Staff Writer
10 May 2008
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