(The Center Square) – MidAmerican Energy announced Wednesday it filed plans with the Iowa Utilities Board to build a $3.9 billion renewable energy project in Iowa.
Wind PRIME would add 2,042 megawatts of wind generation and 50 megawatts of solar generation, a news release from the Des Moines-headquartered company claims.
MidAmerican estimates the project will create more than 1,100 full-time jobs during construction and another 125 ongoing full-time positions for operations and maintenance, along with $24 million in local property tax payments on wind turbines and solar facilities and $21 million in annual landowner easement payments. The company plans to complete construction by the end of 2024, if it receives IUB approval.
The company will also explore new technologies to advance its transition to net-zero greenhouse gas emissions. It proposed conducting feasibility studies regarding other clean generation technologies, such as carbon capture, energy storage and small modular nuclear reactors, to expand its capability to meet demand for renewable generation and lower-carbon and noncarbon generation.
MidAmerican Vice President, Resource Development, Adam Jablonski testified in the IUB application the cost cap for the project is $1.89 million per megawatt, including allowance for funds used during construction (AFUDC), for wind-powered facilities and $1.854 million per megawatt, including AFUDC, for solar-powered generation.
“If actual capital costs are lower than the projected capital costs, rate base shall consist of actual costs. In the event actual capital costs exceed the cost cap, MidAmerican Energy Company shall be required to establish the prudence and reasonableness of such excess before it can be included in rates,” the application said.
The company has invested about $14 billion in renewable energy projects in Iowa since 2004, and this is its 13th renewable energy generation development, the release said.
“Iowa is a renewable energy leader, thanks in large part to MidAmerican Energy’s proven track record of clean energy commitments and investments that are a true competitive advantage for our state,” Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds said in the release.
“MidAmerican’s Wind PRIME is a commitment and investment on a whole new level, cementing Iowa’s clean energy leadership for many years to come. Beyond that, though, the company’s commitment to study and pursue emerging clean energy technologies will help Iowa meet the growing demand for a sustainable economy that manages our carbon footprint.”
MidAmerican President and CEO Kelcey Brown said in the release the project will advance “a sustainable future,” with affordable, reliable energy for the company, which seeks to deliver 100% renewable energy to customers.
The project promises to deliver a 75% reduction (14 million metric tons) of CO2 from 2005 levels. The company estimated it delivered 88% renewable energy on an annual basis to Iowa customers in 2021.
The Heartland Institute Arthur B. Robinson Center on Climate and Environmental Policy Research Fellow Linnea Lueken told The Center Square in an emailed statement that she recommends Iowans reject the project.
“Any additional power that Iowa may need can be easily accomplished with coal, natural gas, or nuclear,” she said. “Updating your grid to be less dependable is not going to work out for ratepayers, and any updates to Iowa’s grid should be taken on by engineers who first care about delivering reliable and affordable power. … It is almost guaranteed to make your energy bills more expensive.”
She said alternative energy sources will be necessary to avoid brownouts or grid intermittency and few landfills can take the carbon fiber and fiberglass of wind turbines.