In April, Warren Buffet’s MidAmerican Energy utility made a big announcement:
It will build the largest wind project in the US in Iowa (if approved by the state). The 2 gigawatt (GW) Wind XI will have 1000 turbines and could be producing electricity by 2018.
The utility’s goal is to provide 100% renewable energy to Iowa customers and this $3.6 billion investment will get it to 85%. It would be the largest wind farm MidAmerican has built.
“We have a bold vision for our energy future. We don’t know of another U.S. energy provider that has staked out this 100% position. Our customers want more renewable energy, and we couldn’t agree more,” says Bill Fehrman, MidAmerican Energy CEO.
And it will push Iowa’s renewable electricity to over 40%, up from 31% now – the most of any state, and where electricity rates are among the lowest in the US.
So, who says we can’t get to 100% renewables fast?!
“Just over a decade ago, Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal Campaign cut its teeth organizing against three proposed coal plants in Iowa. After years of work by a handful of organizations that stopped several proposed coal plants and secured the retirement of other existing coal plants in the state, MidAmerican is now moving Iowa in a decidedly different direction,” says Bruce Nilles, Senior Director of Beyond Coal.
Berkshire Hathaway Energy is one of 13 corporations to sign President Obama’s latest effort on climate change, the American Business Act on Climate pledge.
The pledge: By the end of 2017, MidAmerican Energy will double renewable energy investments to $30 billion, bringing its portfolio to over 4 GW of wind – 57% of its retail energy load, and Pacificorp will buy over 1 GW of solar and wind, bringing its portfolio to over 4.5 GW – about 22% of its retail generating load. 75% of its coal-fired power plants will close in Nevada by 2019.
In Colorado, Xcel Energy is proposing the biggest wind farm in the state, the 600 megawatt Rush Creek Wind Project with 300 turbines. Similarly sized wind farms are also moving along in Texas.
All this is indicative of the US wind boom
Wind supplies close to 5% of US electricity and is expected to reach 10% by 2020 and 20% by 2030.
The industry employs 88,000 people, up 20% over the past year, and will grow to 380,000 jobs by 2030, according to the American Wind Energy Association’s (AWEA) Annual Market Report.
“The challenge is to make renewable technology so cheap that it’s the obvious choice,” says Chris Brown, President of Vestas America and chair of AWEA.
Wind projects or wind-related manufacturing facilities (there are 500 in the US) are in all 50 states and over 70% of Congressional districts.
While China leads on sheer wind capacity, the US produces the most wind energy, enough for 17.5 million American homes.
Worldwide, wind led new power generation in 2015 and will nearly double over the next five years, says the Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC) Annual Market report.
Read our article, 2015: Another Banner Year for Renewable Energy Worldwide.