DES MOINES — MidAmerican Energy Company is set to upgrade hundreds of its older wind turbines, bringing additional wind energy and cost savings to Iowa customers. The equipment upgrades will move MidAmerican Energy closer to its vision of providing renewable energy equal to 100 percent of its customers’ annual energy use.
MidAmerican Energy recently received approval from the Iowa Utilities Board for a plan that will allow the company to repower a portion of its older wind fleet to make the turbines more efficient and productive. The outcome is good for MidAmerican Energy’s customers and for Iowa.
Under the plan, many of MidAmerican Energy’s older General Electric wind turbines will be retrofitted with newer, more efficient components, including longer blades, to extend the life of the turbines. These changes will increase the amount of clean, safe, affordable and reliable energy serving Iowa customers.
“We’re excited to take this next step in our journey toward our 100% Renewable Energy Vision,” Bill Fehrman, president and CEO of MidAmerican Energy said. “Repowering our older wind turbines brings us closer to achieving that vision in a way that provides both economic and environmental benefits to our customers and the state of Iowa. In 2021 when both our repowering and Wind XI projects are complete, we expect to generate renewable energy equal to 95% of our Iowa retail customers’ annual use.”
Because energy generated from wind has no fuel costs, the repowering project will reduce the costs associated with generating electricity from other sources, which helps keep energy costs low and stable for MidAmerican Energy’s Iowa customers. With the extended life of the wind turbines, landowners at the repowering sites will continue to receive lease payments for a longer period and counties will receive tax revenue for an extended period.
MidAmerican Energy has entered into definitive agreements with GE to complete the upgrades.
“We are delighted to work with MidAmerican Energy to repower their turbines,” Pete McCabe, president and CEO, Onshore Wind, GE Renewable Energy said. “Repowering is an affordable way to increase the efficiency and output of turbines, improving reliability and extending the life of the turbines through the evolution of and advancements in technology.”
Beginning in 2017, wind turbines will be repowered at the Century wind farm in Wright and Hamilton counties, the Victory wind farm in Crawford and Carroll counties, and the Intrepid wind farm in Buena Vista and Sac counties. Additional work sites and schedules will be announced at a later date.
As with the $3.6 billion, 2,000-megawatt Wind XI project announced in 2016, MidAmerican Energy is not asking for an increase in customer rates or for financial assistance from the state to pay for repowering.