Travelers who turn their heads to admire the giant windmills dotting Iowa’s landscape will soon have more to gaze at. MidAmerican Energy this week got the go-ahead to built more wind-powered turbines in the state.
Spokesman Alan Urliss says MidAmerican already runs enough wind generators in northwest and north-central Iowa to power 100-thousand homes. There are plans for the first phase of the expansion, to build 99 megawatts of generating capacity in Crawford and Carroll Counties. Those will begin construction this year.
Urliss says the company’s in negotiations now to add more generating sites, though a location hasn’t been chosen. Currently MidAmerican runs two wind-energy sites, one with 122 turbines in Sac and Buena Vista counties, and the other in Wright and Hamilton counties near Blairsburg with 135 turbines.
The Iowa Utilities Board also formalized the agreement to have some electric meters run backwards. Those arrangements have been around a small time, letting small energy producers like communities, schools and farmers connect to the MidAmerican system and feed their electricity into it. The only requirement is that they produce at least two and-a-half megawatts.
Urliss likes to compare the clean generating power of wind turbines to coal-fired power plants. It’s helping avoid the creation of 805-thousand tons of carbon-dioxide a year, which he says it the equivalent of taking 140-thousand vehicles off the road. MidAmerican also has more traditional generating facilities, including a coal-fired electric generating plant in Council Bluffs just completed last year. In Iowa, MidAmerican Energy serves over 615-thousand customers with electric power.