MidAmerican Energy on Thursday said it will announce the locations of up to 656 new wind turbines in coming weeks, along with the name of a vendor and contractor for the $1.9 billion project, the largest economic development investment in the state’s history.
The investor-owned utility announced the plans Wednesday at a press conference led by Gov. Terry Branstad and Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds. MidAmerican did not ask for any state aid, but will take advantage of Congress’ extension of the production tax credit.
Most of the utility’s current wind power is in western Iowa, where the state’s healthy wind supplies are even stronger than average. That is especially true in northwest Iowa, which includes a slight rise in the land known as the Buffalo Ridge.
MidAmerican Energy, a utility serving 714,000 customers in Iowa, Illinois, Nebraska and South Dakota, said the project would create 460 construction jobs over two years and 48 permanent jobs.
MidAmerican spokeswoman Tina Potthoff said the utility has not decided the locations of the turbines, the supplier or the contractor yet but will have an announcement on that in coming weeks. The turbines are expected to be in place by 2015.
The company has already erected 1,267 wind turbines since 2004, many in western and north-central Iowa, an investment of $4 billion. The utility has more generation from wind than any other investor-owned utility in the country.
The project will add 1,050 megawatts of wind generation, pushing the utility’s total capacity to 3,335 megawatts. As a result, MidAmerican expects that about 40 percent of the power it delivers to Iowa homes and businesses will come from wind.
That is expected to save customers money, and the project will not result in a rate increase, the company reported.