Monday, September 25, 2023
DES MOINES, Iowa – (Sept. 25, 2023) – MidAmerican Energy reached a new milestone – delivering 100% renewable energy to serve its Iowa customers’ electricity usage last year. In 2022, MidAmerican’s wind fleet generated more than 27,000 gigawatt-hours over the 12-month period, exceeding the total annual usage of the company’s Iowa customers.
The achievement was possible thanks to a record-setting wind resource in 2022 and MidAmerican’s decades-long commitment to investing in renewable energy on behalf of its customers. MidAmerican’s first wind farm became operational in 2004. Today, the wind fleet is comprised of more than 3,400 wind turbines at more than three-dozen wind farms across Iowa.
“It’s incredible to see the enormous amount of electricity that we’re now able to generate using renewable resources such as wind and solar,” Mike Fehr, MidAmerican senior vice president of renewable generation and compliance, said. “Not only was it an extraordinary year for Iowa wind speeds, which continually exceeded predictions, but with high natural gas prices in 2022, it couldn’t have come at a better time for our customers.”
In addition to generating clean energy, wind is a zero-cost fuel that keeps MidAmerican’s current and future rates low. Earlier this year, MidAmerican customers realized lower electric costs thanks to wind generation in 2022. Overall, MidAmerican’s Iowa customers have the fifth-lowest rates in the country among investor-owned utilities and rates that are 39% below the national average.
MidAmerican has a diversified portfolio of resources, including wind, solar and thermal assets, which is the key to providing the reliability, affordability and sustainability that customers expect. Renewable resources allow MidAmerican to use thermal resources less and only when they are needed during periods of lower renewable generation production. A balanced generating portfolio means customers won’t pay higher electric prices when any one fuel cost goes up.
“Reaching the milestone of 100% renewable energy to serve our Iowa customers is just the beginning,” Fehr continued. “We continue to invest in new renewable assets to deliver energy, including Wind PRIME, and we look to new carbon-free assets that will further diversify our fleet.”
Wind PRIME project would add 2,042 MW of wind energy
Wind PRIME continues through the regulatory process with the Iowa Utilities Board. In August, MidAmerican, the Office of Consumer Advocate and environmental intervenors agreed to terms in the Wind PRIME docket, maintaining key customer benefits that have been proposed. The regulatory process will continue, culminating with a rehearing in October. The board is expected to make a final decision on Wind PRIME by December.
The additional 2,042 megawatts of renewable generation proposed in Wind PRIME is necessary to serve the growing customer base in Iowa and maintain 100% renewable coverage. Low energy costs and renewable energy coverage have been key to attracting and retaining businesses in Iowa. As companies continue to grow in the state, MidAmerican will need to add renewable generation to serve those needs and to support growing communities.
GreenAdvantage program reaches 100% for 2022
MidAmerican filed the figures Friday as part of a request to the Iowa Utilities Board to verify the 100% renewable energy milestone through the company’s GreenAdvantage program. The program passes on sustainability benefits to all MidAmerican customers in Iowa at no additional cost.
Through GreenAdvantage, MidAmerican retires renewable energy certificates associated with the renewable energy MidAmerican generates on behalf of customers, instead of selling them on the market. By retiring the RECs, MidAmerican enables its customers to claim the renewable energy attributes so they can advance their own sustainability goals.
"We are extremely pleased MidAmerican reached its 100% renewable milestone for 2022. It is a remarkable achievement," Sean Keenan, vice president of supply chain at SSAB Americas, located in Montpelier, said. "MidAmerican’s commitment to investing in renewable generation is great news for SSAB, as we are manufacturing the world's most sustainable steel products here in Iowa. MidAmerican’s unique performance provides an excellent starting point for additional renewable generation into the Iowa energy supply chain for all MidAmerican customers in Iowa.
“SSAB believes the proposed Wind Prime project will be instrumental in meeting our continued demand for long-term supply of 100% renewable electricity, for encouraging economic growth in Iowa, and for supporting increased green electricity consumption.”
Wind energy benefits go beyond environmental
Wind energy not only generates clean power but also provides additional benefits to MidAmerican customers:
Region experienced record winds in 2022
While MidAmerican delivered 100% renewable energy to serve its Iowa customers’ electricity usage in 2022, the company is unlikely to replicate it without adding additional resources to harness the wind, according to National Weather Service data. The weather service reports that, in 2022, the region experienced record average wind speeds beginning early in the year.
“It (2022) was likely the windiest April, and start to the year through April 30th for that matter, on record across the area since *at least* the mid to late 1990s based on average wind speed,” the agency posted.