MidAmerican Energy reaches settlement to move 2 GW wind farm forward
A massive 2,000 MW wind project being developed by MidAmerican Energy is back on track after being stalled by pushback from some of the utility’s largest customers, Midwest Energy News reports.
The Iowa Business Energy Coalition, a group of large industrial customers, as well as Google, Microsoft and Facebook, objected to the $3.6 billion Wind XI project, protesting that the rates MidAmerican, a subsidiary of Berkshire Hathaway, was seeking for the project were too high, among other things.
MidAmerican has reach an agreement with the protesting parties that calls for the project to receive an 11% return on equity, less than the 11.5% return the utility sought but higher than the 9.5% rate critics were pushing for.
Last August, the Iowa Utilities Board (IUB) approved MidAmerican’s 552 MW Wind X project but capped costs at $1.61 million/MW and lowered the rate of return to 11.35% from the 11.5% return sought by MidAmerican.
MidAmerican Energy filed plans with the IUB in April 2016 for Wind XI, a proposal to build up to 2,000 megawatts of new wind generation in Iowa. The utility then encountered pushback from some of its largest customers, but this week reached a settlement, agreeing on an 11% return on equity. The settlement also calls for the environmental benefits of the wind farm to be assigned to various customer classes based on their energy usage.
The settlement still has to be approved by the IUB.
The Wind XI project is part of MidAmerican’s plan to generate 100% of its electricity from renewable resources. “We have a bold vision for our energy future,” Bill Fehrman, CEO and president of MidAmerican Energy, said in a statement in April. “Once the project is complete, we will generate wind energy equal to 85% of our annual customer sales in Iowa, bringing us within striking distance of our 100% renewable vision.”
MidAmerican says the proposed $3.6 billion project would the largest wind farm the company has ever undertaken, and noted that it is being done without an increase in customer rates or financial assistance from the state.
Correction: An earlier version of this article conflated approval for MidAmerican's Wind X and Wind XI projects. The former was approved last August, while plans for the latter were filed in April of this year.
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