News, State Feed

MidAmerican Energy proposes $3.9 billion “Wind PRIME” renewable energy project

Proposal includes clean generation and storage feasibility studies to help company achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions

DES MOINES, Iowa – MidAmerican Energy today 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, 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.

About MidAmerican Energy
MidAmerican Energy, a subsidiary of Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Energy, is headquartered in Des Moines, Iowa. The company serves 795,000 electric customers in Iowa, Illinois and South Dakota, and 774,000 natural gas customers in Iowa, Illinois, Nebraska and South Dakota. Information about MidAmerican Energy is available at midamericanenergy.com and company social media channels.


Dawn of new era for MidAmerican Energy: solar projects coming online

3-MW Waterloo array will be the first utility-scale solar project for the company; more nearing completion

DES MOINES, Iowa – Helping to mark American Clean Power Week, MidAmerican Energy is taking the final steps to flip the switch at the company’s first utility-scale solar energy project, located in Waterloo.

This ushers in a new era for MidAmerican’s renewable portfolio – and for its customers – since the Waterloo solar project and others coming online later this year will expand the company’s renewable energy mix in Iowa.

In mid-November, MidAmerican will power-up the 3-megawatt Waterloo solar project, comprised of nearly 10,000 solar panels, northeast of West Airline Highway and Burton Avenue. The array has the capacity to serve nearly 650 average Iowa homes.

“As we place more solar projects online over the next few months and years, they will boost the amount of clean, renewable energy we can provide to our customers. And we’re doing it while also keeping our rates here in Iowa affordable – currently the 11th lowest in the nation,” Mike Fehr, senior vice president of renewable generation and compliance at MidAmerican, said.

“We are proud of the progress we’ve made in delivering renewable energy to our customers, but that’s not where the road ends. MidAmerican is striving to reach a net-zero future,” Fehr said. “We will continue to find ways to decarbonize our portfolio in a manner our customers can afford, our regulators will allow and technology advances support.”

MidAmerican’s efforts to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions, Fehr noted, include adding renewable generation, investigating additional non-carbon generation technologies such as increasing nuclear generation, advancing transmission infrastructure to expand non-carbon resource generation and access, and exploring energy storage opportunities.

MidAmerican adding 61-megawatts of solar in 2021
In addition to the Waterloo solar array, MidAmerican plans to have solar projects online this year, including the 3-MW Hills solar project near Iowa City, 4-MW Neal solar project near Sioux City, 7-MW Franklin solar project in Franklin County, 24-MW Arbor Hill solar project in Adair County and 20-MW at the Holliday Creek solar project in Webster County. The company will add another 80-MW at Holliday Creek next year.

GreenAdvantage program
In 2020, MidAmerican delivered 83.6% of the energy its Iowa customers used from renewable resources, according to the Iowa Utilities Board’s verification of company data. While that has mainly come from wind energy, solar arrays now being built will add to that percentage in the future.


Through MidAmerican’s GreenAdvantage program, the company enables all Iowa customers to claim a verified amount of renewable energy at no additional charge, helping customers meet sustainability goals.

Last year, MidAmerican helped Iowa lead the nation in the percentage of electricity generated by wind energy, which was nearly 60% statewide, according to the U.S. Department of Energy’s Energy Information Administration.

Renewable energy technicians: two of the top three fastest-growing jobs
With MidAmerican adding utility-scale solar projects this year on top of its expansive and growing wind energy fleet that employs hundreds across Iowa, the company is expanding the state’s workforce in two of the nation’s fastest-growing job fields. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, a wind turbine technician is the fastest-growing job in the nation and a solar photovoltaic installer is now third.

About MidAmerican Energy
MidAmerican Energy, headquartered in Des Moines, Iowa, serves 795,000 electric customers in Iowa, Illinois and South Dakota, and 774,000 natural gas customers in Iowa, Illinois, Nebraska and South Dakota. Information about MidAmerican Energy is available at midamericanenergy.com and company social media channels.


Scattergood Friends School seeking bus driver

Scattergood Friends SchoolScattergood Friends School is seeking a bus driver with CDL and bus driver designations for daily morning and afternoon bus routes between our campus in West Branch and a pick-up/drop-off location in Iowa City. Candidates must be reliable, punctual, and able to work with Middle and High School students. This is a part-time, non-benefit eligible position with a rate of $18-$20 per/hour, Monday-Friday, September through June. Please contact Jobs@scattergood.org for more information and to apply.


Rathbun Recognized with Circle of Excellence IAWA Iowa Watershed Award

John RathbunAMES, IOWA – John Rathbun, watershed coordinator for the Clear Creek Watershed Coalition, is honored today with the Circle of Excellence award from the Iowa Agriculture Water Alliance (IAWA) as part of the fourth annual IAWA Iowa Watershed Awards program.

Rathbun is honored alongside five other watershed coordinators who are also receiving a 2021 IAWA Iowa Watershed Award. The recipients were announced at the 2021 Iowa Water Conference.

“In these challenging times, it’s important to recognize these unsung heroes who continue to make great progress implementing conservation practices that improve water quality,” says Sean McMahon, IAWA Executive Director. “These watershed coordinators have worked during a global pandemic to help meet local community goals while also simultaneously advancing the objectives of the statewide Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy.”

A crucial flood control project takes shape

This is the second year in a row that Rathbun has earned this award. After several years of his planning and meeting with landowners and local governments, 2020 saw structures taking shape that will mitigate flooding along Clear Creek.

“Last year we installed 14 practices,” Rathbun says. The work included 10 ponds, three grade stabilization structures that look like dry ponds, and two rock chutes. This spring, 20 more practices, a mix of sediment control basins and grassed waterways, will be built.  All of that work is in the agricultural half of the watershed’s 66,000 acres.

Later this year, the city of Coralville will restore flood plains. Upstream, the town of Tiffin will restore native prairie along a stretch of the creek.

“People will be able to walk their dogs and see what Iowa used to look like,” Rathbun says of the prairie restoration.

The entire project is aimed at flood control, with part of the cost supported by a federal grant from the Department of Housing and Urban Development. The normally calm Clear Creek starts in farming areas north of the Williamsburg outlet mall and empties into the Iowa River in Coralville. During the historic floods of 2008, Clear Creek swamped Coralville, damaging more than 200 businesses and closing roads.

By the end of this year, Rathbun hopes to have some 70 flood mitigation practices finished.

“There will be lots of construction,” he says. “We’re looking forward to getting the rest of this project on the ground.”

In addition to reducing the risk of floods, the project is expected to bring the environmental benefit of cleaner water.  Ponds and wetlands denitrify water and sediment settles out in them. At two locations in the watershed, the University of Iowa measures nitrate concentration and several other indicators of water quality as well as discharge rates.

Rathbun was hired as watershed coordinator in 2017 when he joined the staff of the Johnson County Soil and Water Conservation District.  Before that, he spent 18 years as an urban landscape designer.

Rathbun’s partners in the Clear Creek Watershed Project include USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service, Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR), Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship (IDALS), Iowa Economic Development Authority, Iowa Department of Homeland Security, Johnson County, the East Central Iowa Council of Governments, the Iowa Flood Center, and Iowa State University Extension and Outreach.

Rathbun also works with Johnson County Conservation Department and the local Watershed Management Association. The Mayor of Coralville, John Lundell, and Iowa County Supervisor John Gahring have also offered support and advice to the project, he says.

To help maintain momentum for this work, Rathbun will receive funding through the Iowa Watershed Award to apply to the Clear Creek Water Quality Project as well as funding for his own professional development.

The IAWA Iowa Watershed Awards program was developed by IAWA in partnership with Iowa State University Extension and Outreach, Conservation Districts of Iowa, IDALS, and Iowa DNR. 

The Iowa Agriculture Water Alliance (IAWA) is increasing the pace and scale of farmer-led efforts to improve water quality in Iowa. Founded in 2014 by Iowa Corn, the Iowa Soybean Association, and the Iowa Pork Producers Association, IAWA is building public-private partnerships focused on implementing water quality solutions. Iowa farmers are actively engaged in various conservation efforts that improve water quality. Learn more at www.iowaagwateralliance.com.


USDA Rural Development Provides $548,300 in Grants to Support Disaster Recovery Across Rural Iowa

DES MOINES, IOWA – The Biden Administration, along with U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Development Acting State Director for Iowa Darin Leach, today announced that the USDA is investing $548,300 to assist 14 Iowa communities in supporting disaster recovery. These funding awards were made through USDA Rural Development’s Community Facilities Grant program.

“Investing in critical community facilities is a key component of improving the quality of life in rural Iowa, which is why these projects are so impactful,” said Darin Leach, USDA Rural Development Acting State Director in Iowa. “Helping rebuild and restore these communities is an important emphasis at USDA Rural Development.”

The projects received grants ranging from $2,600 to $82,000. USDA Rural Development has additional grant funding available and is accepting applications until all funds are exhausted. Grant assistance will be provided on a graduated scale; smaller communities with the lowest median household income are eligible for a higher proportion of grant funds. Application information is available at www.rd.usda.gov/ia or by calling (515) 284-4663.

“With a historic amount of disaster grant funding available through the Community Facilities Program, we look forward to partnering with natural disaster-impacted rural Iowa communities on their road to long-term recovery,” Leach added.

Iowa projects receiving awards today include:

  • The City of Lohrville will use a $40,400 grant to purchase emergency responder equipment including air packs, cylinders, masks, and related equipment. The city's current equipment is old and out of compliance and risks the safety and efficiency of the emergency responders.
  • The City of Volga is receiving a $82,000 grant to purchase a fire tanker truck and turn out gear for the volunteer fire department. The fire department's existing vehicle was purchased in 1980 and has a manual transmission and low-capacity water tank. This project will allow the city to purchase a new tanker vehicle with a more efficient automatic transmission and high-capacity water tank to accommodate the city's 208 residents.
  • The City of Leon will use a $44,000 grant for the purchase of a police vehicle. The replacement vehicle will improve reliability of police response as the current vehicle has high mileage. Additionally, they are receiving a $39,000 grant to purchase a public works vehicle.  The vehicle will also include a snow plow attachment and dump bed so that the community's streets, parks, trails, cemetery, and facilities can be properly maintained. These grants will increase the overall safety of the community and its residents.
  • The City of Randolph will use a $11,000 grant to purchase a mower and maintenance equipment. The city's existing mower and maintenance equipment are beyond their useful life. This project will allow the city to purchase new equipment and continue essential regular maintenance of city property for the 168 local residents.
  • The City of Persia is receiving $50,000 grant to purchase a maintenance truck for the city of Persia. The city's existing vehicle is beyond useful life and requires regular, costly repairs. This project will allow the city to purchase a new vehicle and continue to provide essential maintenance services for Persia's 319 residents.
  • The City of Wyoming will use a $2,600 grant to install a new HVAC system for the daycare building. The existing system does not work properly, requiring regular costly maintenance and creates an uncomfortable environment for staff and children. This project will help the daycare center purchase a new system in the facility and maintain the health and safety of those who utilize the daycare service.
  • The City of Keokuk is receiving a $66,000 grant used for the purchase of equipment for the Keokuk airport. The airport is in need of replacing existing edge lights along the airplane runway, direct buried cable with new LED lights, a conduit system, and a new Precision Approach Path Indicator (PAPI) system to help ensure that planes are a provided a visual indication of the aircraft's position relative to the designated glideslope for the runway. This project will help to ensure the safety of patrons utilizing the airport's runway.
  • The City of Montrose will use a $27,300 grant to help purchase a police vehicle for the city of Montrose. The city's Police Department currently has a vehicle in its fleet with high mileage and requires regular, costly maintenance. This project will help the city purchase a new vehicle with modern equipment that will replace the aging vehicle in its current fleet and allow the police department to continue providing essential public safety services to the 898 local residents.
  • The City of Villisca will use a $25,900 grant to purchase a power load cot for the city's volunteer ambulance service. The city's existing two ambulance vehicles are equipped with cots that require physical lifting by emergency service providers. This project will allow the city to purchase a new mission essential power-loading cot that will help protect emergency service providers from lifting injuries and will provide greater stability for patients.  
  • The Atalissa Community Fire Department, Inc. is receiving a $3,800 grant to purchase a backup generator so that the fire station can be an emergency shelter and cooling center during a power outage. The city was recently without power for 10 days that limited the fire department’s ability to effectively respond to emergencies.  
  • The City of Nichols is receiving a $28,000 grant to purchase a brush fire truck and air packs for the City of Nichols fire department.  The city's existing air packs have expired and are out of compliance.  The city's existing brush fire truck is aging and is in need of replacement.
  • The City of West Bend will use a $50,000 grant to assist in the purchase of a mini pumper fire truck to replace the city's existing 1987 model.  The new fire truck will provide emergency services for the city's 785 residents.
  • The City of Mount Ayr is receiving a $18,300 grant to purchase and install two emergency warning sirens. The city's existing sirens are not fully functional; while one siren still produces, sound, it no longer rotates, and the other siren is no longer functional at all. This project will help to provide emergency warning signals for the 1,691 residents of the local community.
  • The City of Milton will use a $60,000 grant to purchase a tractor and related apparatus. The new equipment will be used to help city service employees with street maintenance, snow removal, mowing and other maintenance needs.         

Background:

USDA is investing in 15 projects in rural Iowa through the Community Facilities Grant Program. These programs provide affordable funding to develop essential community facilities in rural areas. An essential community facility is defined as a facility that provides an essential service to the local community for the orderly development of the community in a rural area, and does not include private, commercial, or business undertakings.

More than 100 types of projects are eligible for Community Facilities funding. Eligible applicants include municipalities, public bodies, nonprofit organizations and federally recognized Native American tribes. Projects must be in rural areas with a population of 20,000 or less.

Interested parties should contact their local USDA Rural Development Iowa Office for information about additional funding, application procedures and eligibility details. The Community Facilities Direct Loan Program Guidance Book for Applicants also provides a detailed overview of the application process.

USDA Rural Development has 11 offices across the state to serve the 1.7 million residents living in rural Iowa. Office locations include a state office in Des Moines, along with local offices in Albia, Atlantic, Humboldt, Indianola, Iowa Falls, Le Mars, Mount Pleasant, Storm Lake, Tipton and Waverly. These offices help to provides loans and grants to help expand economic opportunities and create jobs in rural areas. This assistance supports infrastructure improvements; business development; housing; community facilities such as schools, public safety and health care; and high-speed internet access in rural areas.

For more information, visit www.rd.usda.gov/ia or call (515) 284-4663. Follow us on Twitter @RD_Iowa.


MidAmerican encourages customers to temporarily reduce natural gas use due to extreme weather

DES MOINES, Iowa – MidAmerican Energy is asking its customers to conserve their natural gas use as extreme weather conditions are impacting supplies around the country.

While MidAmerican’s systems are operating as expected, the flow of natural gas to our area has been impacted due to frozen wells in the southern U.S.

To manage the supply of natural gas, MidAmerican is coordinating with its largest customers to ensure uninterrupted gas service for residential customers. As temperatures rise over the next few days, the issue is expected to resolve itself.

While MidAmerican is taking every step to keep homes safe and warm, even small adjustments will help to ensure that natural gas is available. Simply lowering thermostats by a few degrees can help.

The arctic conditions have also affected regional electric power generation in some states, though MidAmerican customers are connected to a different portion of the electric grid that is not currently experiencing the same challenges.

More energy conservation tips

Customers can stay comfortable in their homes while also saving money on utility bills through these additional conservation tips:

  • Check your furnace filter. If the filter is dirty, replace it according to the furnace manufacturer’s recommendations.
  • If your home furnace has outdoor plastic intake and exhaust vent pipes, clear any snow and ice to ensure they’re not blocked.
  • Check your interior supply and return air vents, baseboards and radiators to make sure warm air can circulate indoors.
  • To help keep your utility bill down, limit the use of space heaters when possible. Instead, add a layer of clothing or an extra blanket. If you use a space heater, place it at least three feet away from other objects. Shut it off when you go to sleep or leave the area.
  • If you have window curtains, keep them closed at night to help stop cold air that leaks in through your windows. During the day, open them when it’s sunny to help warm your home. Close curtains on windows that are not in direct sunlight.
  • If you feel cold air drafting in through windows or doors, consider adding weather stripping.
  • Do not use a gas stove to heat your home and do not run a generator indoors. This can result in carbon monoxide poisoning.
  • A working carbon monoxide detector is just as important as a smoke alarm. Test both regularly. Carbon monoxide is odorless. CO poisoning can cause flu-like symptoms – even death. If you suspect CO poisoning, dial 911, seek fresh air and remain outside or elsewhere until help arrives.
  • If you smell natural gas, leave the area immediately. From another location at a safe distance, call MidAmerican Energy at 800-595-5325, and then dial 911.
  • Hire a professional to inspect and service your furnace once a year to make sure it’s working correctly, which will help keep you safe and warm during the next cold snap.

MidAmerican encourages any customer who is experiencing financial difficulties to call 888-427-5632 to discuss payment options.

About MidAmerican Energy
MidAmerican Energy, headquartered in Des Moines, Iowa, serves 795,000 electric customers in Iowa, Illinois and South Dakota, and 774,000 natural gas customers in Iowa, Illinois, Nebraska and South Dakota. Information about MidAmerican Energy is available at MidAmericanEnergy.com and company social media channels.