DES MOINES — Southeast Iowa has become home to the world's largest order for onshore wind turbines with MidAmerican Energy's announcement that Siemens will produce 448 turbines at its Fort Madison plant as part of an overall $1.9 billion wind-energy development.
Gov. Terry Branstad said Monday's development represents "another big leap" in Iowa's emerging wind-energy industry with the MidAmerican-Siemens connection expected to create 1,000 construction jobs during the two-year construction period as well as support about 40 permanent jobs and 500 jobs at Siemens' operation in Lee County.
Earlier this year, MidAmerican Energy received approval from the Iowa Utilities Board for a $1.9 billion project to install hundreds of wind turbines in Grundy, Madison, Marshall, O'Brien and Webster counties by the end of 2015.
At a Statehouse news conference, Branstad called the MidAmerican investment "historic" and "the largest economic development project in the history of our state."
When completed, the MidAmerican wind turbine expansion will generate enough electricity to power the equivalent of 317,000 average Iowa households and will mean about 25 percent of Iowa's energy portfolio will come from wind production, Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds said.
"With a total capacity of 1,050 megawatts, this represents not only the largest order ever for onshore wind turbines for Siemens, but also the largest single order for onshore wind power awarded globally to date," according to a Siemens news release.
Since 2007, Siemens has made and shipped more than 9,000 turbine blades from its Fort Madison facility.
"This gives us a stable base for the next couple of years," said Mark Albenze, chief executive officer of wind power Americas for Siemens Energy Inc.
The wind turbines, each with a rating of 2.3 megawatts and a rotor diameter of 108 meters, are to be installed in five different projects in Iowa. Siemens also will be responsible for service and maintenance of the wind turbines.
Since 2004, MidAmerican has installed 1,267 wind turbines in Iowa, representing a total investment of $4 billion and making it the largest rate-regulated utility owner of wind generation in the United States.
Des Moines-based MidAmerican Energy Co. is Iowa's largest energy company, providing electric service to 734,000 customers and natural gas service to 714,000 customers in Iowa, Illinois, Nebraska and South Dakota. It is on track to own and operate 3,335 megawatts of wind-generation capacity in Iowa by the end of 2015. The company currently owns and operates 2,285 megawatts of wind-generation capacity in Iowa.