wind turbine

Wind turbines owned by MidAmerican Energy spin near Mount Carmel, Iowa, in an undated photo.

Charlie Neibergall, Associated Press file

PRIMGHAR, Iowa | MidAmerican Energy announced Friday it will install more wind turbines in O'Brien County, site of a major project the state's largest utility launched just last year.

Coupled with the development of a new wind farm in Adams County, MidAmerican said it also would add another $280 million to its investment in wind energy in Iowa. The company did not break down the expenditure by county but said the majority would be in Adams in southwest Iowa.

If approved by the Iowa Utilities Board, the company’s proposed wind project would add up to 162 megawatts of new wind generation capacity in Iowa when it is completed by the end of 2015, said Bill Fehrman, president and CEO of MidAmerican Energy.

An additional 7 megawatts is planned in O'Brien County, where MidAmerican broke ground last November on a 500-megawatt wind farm near the O'Brien County seat of Primghar. Billed as the largest single wind energy site in Iowa history, the original site called for 218 wind turbines spread out over 70,000 acres.

Dubbed the Highland Wind Energy project, it was part of a $1.9 billion expansion of Iowa's wind generating capacity that the Des Moines utility announced in 2013. The largest investment in state history, it included 448 wind turbines for five Iowa wind projects that would generate 1,000 construction jobs and 40 permanent jobs.

The latest expansion includes 67 more Iowa-made turbines at the O'Brien and Adams county sites, enabling the company to provide wind-powered electricity to more than 1 million Iowa homes.

At a Statehouse news conference with Gov. Terry Branstad and Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds, Fehrman said the expansion will result in an additional 200 construction jobs and 10 permanent jobs.

“With this proposed expansion, beginning in 2016, MidAmerican Energy’s wind resources are expected to produce an amount of energy equivalent to approximately 50 percent of the retail energy customers are expected to need,” Fehrman said.

“These wind projects help stabilize rates in the long term for our customers, foster economic development in Iowa communities and demonstrate MidAmerican Energy’s commitment to the environment,” he added.

Fehrman said his company is working with county officials and landowners to secure development and interconnection rights for the project sites, which are expected to provide more than $40 million in additional property tax revenues over the next 30 years along with annual landowner payments.

Blades for the new turbines will be manufactured at the Siemens facility in Fort Madison, which Fehrman said was the low bidder in a competitive process.

Rod Boshart of the Journal Des Moines Bureau contributed to this story.


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