MidAmerican plans 1GW of Iowa wind

Utility MidAmerican Energy has unveiled plans to add up to 1GW of new wind capacity in the US state of Iowa in light of the renewal of the production tax credit (PTC).

The company – which is owned by investment tycoon Warren Buffett – would install up to 656 new turbines in the state by the end of 2015 under the proposed expansion, which is subject to approval by the Iowa Utilities Board.

MidAmerican currently owns and operates about 2.3GW of wind in Iowa, the number-three US state for installed wind capacity with 5.1GW, according to latest AWEA figures.

MidAmerican said strong political support in Iowa for renewable generation – and for the extension of the PTC  – had helped create the right platform for the huge investment needed.

With a price tag of $1.9bn, Iowa’s Governor Terry Branstad labelled the plan “the largest economic development investment in the history of the state, bringing needed jobs to Iowa, as well as significant economic benefits”.

MidAmerican Energy estimates that with all the new capacity up and running, by January 2016 it could use wind for about 39% of its monthly retail generation output.

Buffett's company is also a major investor in solar power in the US, and recently started work on the 579MW Antelope Valley PV projects in California.