MidAmerican announces large renewable energy project

MidAmerican wind turbines (file photo)

DES MOINES — MidAmerican Energy has filed plans with the Iowa Utilities Board for a $3.9 billion renewable energy project.

Company spokesman Geoff Greenwood says the goal is to hit net-zero greenhouse gas emissions.
“It includes wind projects, solar by 2024 — but we’d also like to study some new technologies for clean energy. And that includes, carbon capture, energy storage, and modular nuclear,” Greenwood says.

They are calling the project Wind PRIME and Greenwood says they would add more than 2,000 megawatts of wind generation and 50 megawatts of solar. The location of each has not yet been decided. “It’s a little bit hard to say. We know what we would like to add right now in terms of additional wind and solar generation. What we don’t know yet is where we would have these projects,” Greenwood says. So, we know roughly how many more projects we need to add — but we don’t yet know exactly where we would add them.”

Greenwood says past projects were built with federal production tax credits — but the amount paid in tax credits is dropping — and could lead to customers paying more. “It’s not as much as it used to be — it used to be 100 percent — and now it has gone down to 60 percent. So we expect that this will still be of value for our customers — but there likely will be a modest cost to our customers over the life of these project,” according to Greenwood. “But nonetheless, it is renewable energy and that is something that our residential and business customers are demanding more of.”

The wind and solar projects are the major part of the plan, while Greenwood says they want to explore other things like carbon capture. That would help reduce emissions for coal-fired energy plants. “Our current plan calls for retiring our existing (coal) generating plants no later than 2049. So we are looking for a shorter-term carbon capture technology that may allow us to capture that carbon sooner rather than later,” he says.

He says they want to look at all the technology available and the does include the small modular nuclear generation. “We certainly have not decided to pursue this — but it is something that we think is worth exploring because it is an emissions-free technology. And it is something that can help us get to where we want to get and where our customers want us to get — which is NetZero greenhouse gas emissions,” Greenwood says.

The proposal has to go through the IUB process to get the plan approved. That will include public hearings and comments on the plan.



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