DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Iowa's largest energy company announced plans Wednesday to spend $1.9 billion to install hundreds of wind turbines by the end of 2015, marking what the governor described as the largest economic development project in the state's history.
Officials with Des Moines-based MidAmerican Energy made the announcement at a Statehouse news conference with Gov. Terry Branstad, who noted that wind energy has been a selling point for high-tech firms looking to invest in Iowa.
"Wind energy is an exploding field and we're excited about it," Branstad said. "As wind energy grows, so does the Iowa economy."
The company wants to build 656 turbines, though the locations have yet to be chosen. Customers won't see new rate increases because federal tax credits are expected to offset the project's cost over the next 30 years, company spokesman Tim Grabinski said.
When completed, the new turbines will have the capacity to generate as much as 1,050 megawatts of wind power — which MidAmerican President William Fehrman said would represent nearly 40 percent of energy used by customers. He added that the utility's Iowa customers would eventually see a slight decrease in their bills as a result of the project.
Fehrman said construction would start before the end of the year to ensure that the project qualifies for a federal tax credit for wind production. The credit, first enacted in 1992, was extended by Congress earlier this year.
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