MidAmerican Energy proposes $3.9 billion ‘Wind PRIME’ renewable energy project

Utility company says proposal would help achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions

MidAmerican Energy's offices in southwest Cedar Rapids. CREDIT RICHARD PRATT

MidAmerican Energy has announced plans for a $3.9 billion renewable energy project in Iowa, including wind and solar generation, and the exploration of new technologies to advance the company’s transition to net-zero greenhouse gas emissions.

In a filing with the Iowa Utilities Board Wednesday, MidAmerican’s proposed project, called “Wind PRIME,” would add 2,042 megawatts of wind generation and 50 megawatts of solar generation.

The company also proposed conducting feasibility studies focused on other clean generation technologies, including carbon capture, energy storage and small modular nuclear reactors.

The IUB filing does not indicate where the project’s components would be installed.

MidAmerican officials said “Wind PRIME” would continue the company’s history of supporting Iowa communities and advancing the state’s position as a leader in renewable energy. Since 2004, the company has invested approximately $14 billion in renewable energy projects across Iowa.

“Iowa is a renewable energy leader, thanks in large part to MidAmerican Energy’s proven track record of clean energy commitments and investments that are a true competitive advantage for our state,” Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds said. “MidAmerican’s ‘Wind PRIME’ is a commitment and investment on a whole new level, cementing Iowa’s clean energy leadership for many years to come. Beyond that, though, the company’s commitment to study and pursue emerging clean energy technologies will help Iowa meet the growing demand for a sustainable economy that manages our carbon footprint.”

Wind PRIME would comprise MidAmerican’s 13th renewable energy generation developmen. Company officials said that although wind is an essential component, the project also includes solar energy generation and the examination of new clean energy technologies that will be an important part of the net-zero transition.

“As MidAmerican continues to progress toward delivering 100% renewable energy to our customers, we are also preparing to meet an important milestone of net-zero greenhouse gas emissions,” said Kelcey Brown, president and CEO of MidAmerican. “The ‘Wind PRIME’ project will position us and our customers for a sustainable future, while ensuring we continue to deliver affordable and reliable energy.”

MidAmerican said ‘Wind PRIME’ would result in a number of benefits for the environment and MidAmerican’s customers, including:

  • Deliver 100% renewable energy to customers – In 2021, MidAmerican estimates that it delivered 88% renewable energy on an annual basis to customers across the state. When combined with MidAmerican’s other projects, the 2,092-megawatt Wind PRIME project would allow MidAmerican to provide renewable energy equal to its Iowa customers’ annual usage.
  • Carbon reduction – While thermal generation will remain a necessary part of the portfolio to ensure reliability for customers, the completion of Wind PRIME, in conjunction with existing noncarbon resources, is projected to result in an overall reduction of CO2 by nearly 14 million metric tons, or approximately 75%, from 2005 levels.
  • Striving to reach net zero – Wind PRIME also proposes the study of emerging technologies, including energy storage, carbon capture and small modular nuclear generation, that will help expand MidAmerican’s ability to meet its customers’ demand for renewable generation as well as lower-carbon and noncarbon generation.

MidAmerican estimates that the “Wind PRIME” project will create more than 1,100 full-time jobs during the construction phase and another 125 full-time positions for ongoing operations and maintenance.

In addition, Wind PRIME will provide an average of $24 million-plus per year in local property tax payments on wind turbines and solar facilities, as well as more than $21 million in annual landowner easement payments.

If approved, the company plans to complete construction in late 2024.