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MidAmerican Energy, a company of Berkshire Hathaway, is on track to become the first investor-owned utility in the United States whose electricity production from renewable source is equal to the electricity needs of its customers—if a major wind project gets the go ahead and is competed, Reuters reports, citing chief executive Adam Wright.
The company is awaiting approval from the Iowa Utilities Board on a large-scale wind farm project, worth US$922 million, which should be completed in 2020. Yet MidAmerican will keep its gas-fired, coal, and nuclear power plants due to the intermittent nature of wind power generation. It will also continue to expand its wind farm portfolio and is already looking for locations for its next projects.
The company, which serves 770,000 customers in Iowa, has been building wind power capacity for 15 years now and has not had to increase rates for customers yet thanks to federal tax breaks for renewable energy. This raises the question: how will the renewable energy industry fare without these tax breaks? There are not a lot of industry insiders willing to answer that question.
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Thanks to the company’s activity in wind power, Iowa is the leader in wind energy generation in the United States, with 35 percent of its electricity coming from wind farms. The Wind XII project, which the Iowa Utilities Board will now review, will have a capacity of 591MW, which is a quarter of the capacity of its previous wind project, Wind XI, which, when completed, will have a capacity of 2GW. Next month, the next stage of its expansion will begin, with the goal of adding 550 MW of capacity from 275 more turbines.
The Department of Energy projects that the country’s total installed wind capacity by 2020 will hit 113.43 GW across 36 states, which would be 52.31 GW more than in 2013. By 2030, wind capacity in the United States could reach 224.07 GW, up by 110.66 GW from 2020.
By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com
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Irina is a writer for Oilprice.com with over a decade of experience writing on the oil and gas industry.