Massive wind harvesting project to go up in Iowa

Wind power
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(Tech Xplore)—MidAmerican Energy has announced that the State of Iowa's Utility Board has approved plans for installation of its 2 GW Wind XI project, the largest ever undertaken in the U.S.. The project will involve installing 1,000 wind turbines over a two-year period in various sites throughout Iowa to provide electricity to approximately 800,000 consumers.

Unique to the project is a promise made by Des Moines-based MidAmerican that the installation costs of the turbines will not affect consumer energy bills, nor will the state be asked to pay for them—instead, MidAmerican will be footing the $3.6 billion cost itself. It is a utility company offering electricity and natural gas to customers in Nebraska, South Dakota, Illinois and of course, Iowa. The company has set a goal of getting the state off coal completely and expects this new project to advance that goal—they project that once the project is fully operational, and other projects go forward as well, fully 85 percent of the electricity used in Iowa will come from wind powered turbines by 2020.

Iowa is currently the state with the second-largest production of wind-powered electricity (generating 15 MWh) behind only Texas, which generates 36 MWh. In Iowa, that accounts for a leading 31.3 percent of all electricity consumed. The Energy Information Administration recently announced that approximately 80 percent of in the U.S. is produced in just 12 states. But that is likely to change soon because of the maturation of wind power technology and the rise of companies that produce the necessary equipment. As reps for MidAmerican note in their announcement, has proven to be easier to scale than other renewable resources such as solar, geothermal or hydro. Turbines have grown increasingly larger, as have incentives for people who live in places like Iowa where there are great stretches of farmland—farmers get paid monthly to have turbines installed and run on their land.

The project will take place over the next three years, though it is not clear just yet where the turbines will actually be installed. Once underway, it will be the largest economic project in the state's history—one that MidAmerican is promising will not only reduce carbon emissions by phasing out coal plants, but one that will protect consumers from rising .

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