MidAmerican Energy has erected nearly 2,200 wind turbines in 27 Iowa counties. Nearly half of its customers are served entirely by wind energy and the state of Iowa, overall, generates 36% of all its energy from wind thanks to investments like MidAmerican's. This commitment to wind — and for pushing the envelope on saving sustainable, non-fossil fuel energy in battery storage — has made the privately-owned utility ENR Midwest's 2019 Owner of the Year. MidAmerican started four new Iowa windfarm projects in 2018 that involve a total investment of $1.47 billion, three of which are in the top 20 of our preliminary Top Starts list. MidAmerican expects to serve 85% of its customers entirely with wind energy by 2020.
In January, MidAmerican completed its first grid-scale solar-plus-storage system. The 4-mwH lithium-ion phosphate lithium-ion battery storage is housed in two semi truck-sized containers at a MidAmerican Energy substation in Knoxville, Iowa, and the experimental facility was designed to store energy created during peak times.
"Energy storage has the potential to allow us to retain energy when customer demand is low and release it during peak usage times. That would give us new options to manage peak loads, enhance overall reliability and help keep electric costs low and affordable for our customers,” Mike Fehr of MidAmerican Energy said.
The system is designed to work as a backup to MidAmerican’s network of wind and solar farms to supply power during times when the sun doesn't shine and the wind doesn't blow to create uninterrupted, fully renewable-powered service to MidAmerican’s 800,000 customers, potentially eliminating the need for fossil-fuel burning backup.
MidAmerican Energy's investments in Iowa's grid and its commitment to battery-to-grid storage made it a near-lock in voting for Midwest Owner of the Year.