MidAmerican Energy, which is a utility in the portfolio of Warren Buffet’s Berkshire Hathaway, announced on January 19 that it will invest US$3.9 billion to install 2.1GW of wind and PV generation capacity in Iowa. The plan is expected to be one of the largest to date in the US for wind project development. The announcement was first reported by news agencies including Bloomberg and other renewable energy news websites.
Of the 2.1GW renewable generation capacity, 2,042MW will be based on wind power, and 50MW will be based on solar PV. This amount is expected to be sufficient to meet the electricity needs of around 600,000 homes. MidAmerican will also allocate a portion of the US$3.9 billion investment to fund studies on technologies related to carbon capture, energy storage, and small nuclear reactors.
MidAmerican’s investment will inject additional growth momentum into Iowa’s wind power sector, which is already fairly large in scale. Bloomberg’s article about the announcement cited data from the Iowa Utilities Board that show wind power accounted for 41% of the state’s total energy needs in 2019. This was a massive increase compared with the share figure of just 5.1% in 2006.
The US$3.9 billion investment plan, which is named the “Wind Prime Project”, is tentatively scheduled for completion by the end of 2024, pending on the approval of the state government. MidAmerican estimates that 1,100 jobs will be created during the construction phase, and the ongoing operation of the newly-built renewable installations will help create another 125 jobs. Once completed, the entire project will generate an average of US$24 million in annual property tax revenue and more than US$21 million in annual landlord-comfort payment.