Berkshire Hathaway’s MidAmerican Energy is planning 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, 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.
Wind PRIME will continue MidAmerican’s long 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 Governor 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, MidAmerican’s 13th renewable energy generation development, is aptly named to both convey that now is the prime time to embark on this opportunity, and to reflect 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,” Kelcey Brown, president and CEO of MidAmerican, said. “The Wind PRIME project will position us and our customers for a sustainable future, while ensuring we continue to deliver affordable and reliable energy.”
Wind PRIME would result in significant benefits for the environment and MidAmerican’s customers:
• 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.
© 2022 David Mazor
Disclosure: David Mazor is a freelance writer focusing on Berkshire Hathaway. The author is long in Berkshire Hathaway, and this article is not a recommendation on whether to buy or sell a stock. The information contained in this article should not be construed as personalized or individualized investment advice. Past performance is no guarantee of future results.