By - Jim Vess

MidAmerican Energy sets one-day record for wind energy, covers all of retail demand

Energize Weekly, May 8, 2019

MidAmerican Energy hit a one-day record for wind generation in April, producing enough electricity to serve 100 percent of its retail customers’ needs with renewable energy.

The Des Moines-based utility—which serves 783,000 electric customers in Iowa, South Dakota and Illinois—generated 11,500 megawatt-hours (MWh) on April 10, 8.5 percent better than its previous record for wind generation set in January 2019.

For the first three weeks of April, the utility’s wind farms generated 1,314 gigawatt-hours of electricity, supplying 88 percent of all customers’ energy electricity demand during that period.

A gigawatt-hour of energy is enough to supply electricity to about 90 homes for a year. The electricity generated by wind in the first three weeks in April was enough to power more than 117,000 homes for a year, according to MidAmerican Energy.

“Hitting this record is a milestone for our customers and our company,” Spencer Moore, MidAmerican Energy Company vice president of generation, said in a statement. “It shows we’re well on our way to meeting our 100 percent renewable energy vision, which is to power our Iowa customers’ annual use with renewable sources.”

MidAmerican Energy provided its customers with more than half of their electricity from renewable sources in 2017, according to an Iowa Utilities Board (IUB) verification in 2018.

In 2016, MidAmerican Energy unveiled a plan to reach 100 percent renewable generation. The same year the IUB approved the utility’s Wind X project. The $3.6 billion project—the largest economic development project ever in Iowa—is building 2,000 megawatts (MW) of new wind capacity.

The last phase of the plan, Wind XII, a $922 million, 591-MW project, is slated to be finished by the end of next year. When it comes online, MidAmerican Energy said that it will be able to match customers annual retail usage with 100 percent renewable energy.

MidAmerican has been transitioning to wind since 2004. Between 2004 and 2010, the utility added 1,285 MW of wind-generating capacity and now has about 2,835 MW of wind capacity.

In 2004, 70 percent of the utility’s generating capacity was in coal, and nothing came from wind. At the end of 2016, 48 percent of MidAmerican Energy’s generating capacity was wind, and 31 percent was coal-fired.

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