MidAmerican gets the go-ahead for 1GW expansion

UNITED STATES: MidAmerican Energy has been given the green light by the Iowa Utilities Board to develop up to 1,050MW of wind power in the Midwestern state by the end of 2015.

Owned by billionaire Warren Buffet’s Berkshire Hathaway conglomerate, MidAmerican is the US’s leading wind energy-generating utility. It already owns and operates 2.3GW of wind power in Iowa.

Construction on the five-site Wind Vlll project will start immediately, and all projects are expected to be completed by the end of 2015.

MidAmerican has not yet named a turbine supplier for the $1.9 billion investment, but Siemens and GE feature prominently in its current projects.

In May MidAmerican disclosed that it was in talks with social media giant Facebook, which was interested in using a part of Wind Vlll’s power to provide renewable energy credits for a new data centre in central Iowa.

Although it is not yet clear how Facebook’s involvement affects the funding of the project, MidAmerican said the expansion will be built at no net cost to the company’s customers.

Consumer bills will be cut by $3.3 billion a year in 2015 when the first 350MW of the project goes online, and by $10 million a year by 2017. The reductions will be achieved by taking advantage of the production tax credit (PTC) and renewable energy credits.

"The best way to meet our customers’ energy needs is to provide reliable, affordable and environmentally responsible energy through a diversified generation portfolio," said MidAmerican CEO Bill Fehrman.