DES MOINES | Hundreds of new MidAmerican Energy wind turbines will be sprouting up in five Iowa counties soon as part of a $1.9 billion project that will generate up to 1,050 megawatts of power in Iowa by 2015, Gov. Terry Branstad said Monday.
The 448 turbines will be erected at locations in Grundy, Madison, Marshall, O’Brien and Webster counties, with construction of the wind farms to begin next month, the governor said during his weekly news conference.
Branstad said the project -- the largest economic development investment in state history -- will create about 460 construction jobs over two years with an estimated payroll of $30 million, and 48 permanent jobs with a $2.4 million payroll.
The overall economic impact for Iowa includes about $360 million in additional property tax revenue for local governments over the next 30 years, as well as payments of up to $3.2 million annually to farmers for the use of their land.
“We’re excited about that,” Branstad said. “This is a huge project and obviously it’s a win-win for everybody: for the environment, for the farmers, for the customers and for the people who get jobs in the construction and eventually in overseeing the maintenance of the wind farms.”
Customers won't see new rate increases because federal tax credits are expected to offset the project's cost over the next 30 years.
MidAmerican said the project would start late this year and is scheduled to be completed in 2015
Since 2004, the utility has installed 1,267 wind turbines in Iowa representing a total investment of about $4 billion.
With the project’s approval last Friday by the Iowa Utilities Board, MidAmerican Energy is on track to own and operate about 3,335 megawatts of wind generation capacity in Iowa by the end of 2015. The company now has about 2,285 megawatts.
“The wind expansion will help stabilize electric rates over the long term for our customers and also demonstrates MidAmerican Energy’s commitment to lessen the environmental impact created by the process of electrical generation,” said Bill Fehrman, company president and CEO.
MidAmerican's electrical generation capability will be about 39 percent wind, 33 percent coal, 18 percent natural gas, 6 percent nuclear, and 4 percent other by July 2016.
The Des Moines-based utility provides electrical service to 734,000 customers and natural gas service to 714,000 customers in Iowa, Illinois, Nebraska and South Dakota.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.