MidAmerican Energy spokesperson, Ruth Comer says work on the 8th wind farm wrapped up in early December, and the 9th farm was completed last week.
“Together the two projects account for a little more than 1,200 megawatts of wind generation capacity for MidAmerican Energy and for Iowa customers,” Comer says. The two recently completed wind farms — number 8 or the Highland farm in O’Brien County — and number 9, the Adams wind farm in Adams County increased the total number of turbines in operation.
“We added 451 turbines as part of the wind eight project and then another 67 as part of wind nine, so more than 500 new wind turbines in Iowa,” Comer says. “That brings us to a total of just a little under 1,800 wind turbines across the state in 22 counties.”
The Highland farm is the company’s largest, and Comer says it is one of the largest economic development projects in the state. She says they taken advantage of new technology as they’ve installed new turbines. Some of the changes include using concrete for a turbine tower to build it higher to catch more wind, and longer blades on turbines to catch more wind.
Comer says the turbine blades should be spinning for decades before they have to be replaced. “A turbine conservatively could last for 30 years if it is properly maintained and kept up. And so, that’s what we are looking at with our turbines, that there are here for the long-term. We have long-term leases with the landowners where the turbines reside,” according to Comer. The new turbines allows the company to generate 3,500 megawatts of electricity, which is about 42 percent of the company’s installed generation capacity.
Comer says that will increase as they complete work on their 10th wind project by the end of this year with farms in O’Brien and Ida County. “By 2017, we project with the projects that we already have in operation and the ones we have planned and under construction — we’ll be able to produce and amount that’s roughly equal to 57 percent of our customers’ retail needs,” Comer says.
Des Moines-based MidAmerican says it now owns and operates more wind turbines than any utility in the nation. The company has moved into that spot in a little more than a decade. “Back in 2004 we had no wind generation owned by the company, and so all of our projects have been put into operation since 2004,” Comer says. “So, we are really proud of where we have come in the last 12 years.” MidAmerican says wind projects has spurred economic development in the state, creating thousands of construction jobs and almost 200 permanent jobs in rural Iowa.
The company says the wind projects will generate more than $1.5 in lease payments to landowners and property tax payments to schools, cities and counties in the next 30 years.