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United States

Iowa utility steps up investment

Iowa's MidAmerican Energy has plans to connect 545 MW of new wind projects in its home state of Iowa before the end of next year, adding to the 360.5 MW of wind power it already owns and operates there.

An Iowa subsidiary of Chicago-based Invenergy Wind has already begun building a 99 MW facility in Carroll and Crawford counties to bring 66 of GE Energy's 1.5 MW turbines online before the end of the year. Meanwhile, Enxco Development Corporation, a subsidiary of California's Enxco, is about to begin work on a 123 MW project in Pocahontas County, expecting to connect 82 GE 1.5 MW turbines before the end of 2007.

The remaining 323 MW of MidAmerican's Iowa expansion plans have not been finalised but work has been approved by the Iowa Utilities Board (IUB). Costs of the overall expansion and details on turbines for the remaining projects are not yet available. "We're currently investigating other sites and hope to have an announcement soon," says MidAmerican's Allan Urlis. "But the entire 545 MW will have to be complete by the end of 2007 by order of the IUB."

The order ensures that electric rates for MidAmerican customers, who have not seen a rate increase since 1995, will remain the same through at least 2010. "We have a regulatory framework in Iowa such that we're able to get approval ahead of time for our rate-making treatment," says Urlis. "When combined with the federal production tax credit, that means it makes sense for us to own and operate wind."

Iowa, with 836 MW, ranks behind only Texas and California in US wind power development. MidAmerican, headquartered in Des Moines, is Iowa's largest energy company and serves 706,000 electricity customers in Illinois, Nebraska, South Dakota and Iowa.

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