MidAmerican Energy Co. this morning announced plans to add up to $280 million in wind energy, by adding up to 64 turbines in Adams County and three in O'Brien County.


The new project adds to the $1.9 billion spending on wind generation the company announced previously, meaning a combined $2.2 billion in development over the next two years.


At a press conference, Gov. Terry Branstad said MidAmerican's wind energy projects helped the state attract developments by the likes of Google Inc., Microsoft Corp. and Facebook Inc., firms that look for low energy costs and a commitment to alternative energy.


MidAmerican CEO William Fehrman said the projects will save customers $93 million over 10 years by reducing fuel costs and helping to stabilize rates. The project, scheduled for completion by the end of 2015 if approved by the Iowa Utilities Board, would add up to 162 megawatts of new wind generation capacity in Iowa.


MidAmerican then would produce a total of 3,500 megawatts from wind, enough power for 1 million homes.


Fehrman said MidAmerican now has planned or finished $6 billion worth of projects. The investor-owned utility leads the nation's rate-regulated utilities in wind energy production.


Blades for the new turbines will be manufactured at the Siemens facility in Fort Madison. Turbine construction could start as early as next summer.


"With this proposed expansion, beginning in 2016, MidAmerican Energy's wind resources are expected to produce an amount of energy equivalent to approximately 50 percent of the retail energy customers are expected to need," Fehrman said. "We're extremely proud of how far we've come as a state, and as a company, since the installation of our first wind turbines a decade ago. These wind projects help stabilize rates in the long term for our customers, foster economic development in Iowa communities, and demonstrate MidAmerican Energy's commitment to the environment."


Click here for a previous article on MidAmerican's wind energy development.