MidAmerican Energy close to putting first 3-MW Iowa solar farm into operation

Iowa-based MidAmerican Energy is not new to utility-scale renewable energy, but the company’s earlier plans have focused on the wind farms clearly visible along I-80 and throughout the region.

Solar was not so much of a priority for the company until now. Soon, MidAmerican Energy will flip the switch on its first utility-scale solar photovoltaic project and then quickly add others to the PV mix.

 The 3-MW Waterloo solar farm will be comprised of nearly 10,000 panels and located north of Cedar Rapids. The array at capacity will serve electricity to the equivalent of nearly 650 Iowa homes.

Waterloo’s solar farm will go online in mid-November. MidAmerican Energy plans to add 61 MW of solar capacity through larger projects currently in the works, including the 4-MW Neal solar farm, the 24-MW Arbor Hill and 20-MW Holiday Creek project.

“As we place more solar projects online over the next few months and years, they will boost the amount of clean, renewable energy we can provide to our customers. And we’re doing it while also keeping our rates here in Iowa affordable – currently the 11th lowest in the nation,” Mike Fehr, senior vice president of renewable generation and compliance at MidAmerican, said.

MidAmerican already has more than 7,000 MW of wind capacity via 3,300 turbines spread across Iowa. The utility offers its customers a GreenAdvantage program to claim renewable energy at no additional charge.

MidAmerican’s efforts to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions, Fehr noted, include adding renewable generation, investigating additional non-carbon generation technologies such as increasing nuclear generation, advancing transmission infrastructure to expand non-carbon resource generation and access, and exploring energy storage opportunities.

Author

  • Rod Walton is content director for Power Engineering, POWERGEN International and the online POWERGEN+ series. He is a 13-year veteran of covering the energy industry both as a newspaper journalist and trade publication editor. He can be reached at 918-831-9177 and rod.walton@clarionevents.com.

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