The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!
Iowa's Largest Utility Eyes 100% Renewable Energy Goal
Des Moines-based MidAmerican Energy, owned by Berkshire Hathaway's Warren Buffett, recently invested $3.6 billion for its 2,000 megawatt Wind XI project, that's hailed as "the largest economic development project in Iowa's history" as well as the nation's largest wind energy project.
The Des Moines Register reports that MidAmerican will install 1,000 wind turbines over the next few years on top of the 2,020 turbines the company has already built around the state.
The feat would bring the utility's share of energy from renewable sources from 55 percent to 89 percent.
"We will be able to virtually serve 89 percent of our customers' needs with an energy resource that requires no fuel," MidAmerican CEO Bill Fehrman told the publication.
The initiative would involve no rate increases for customers—MidAmerican has agreed to freeze rates until at least 2029, and "a lot of that is because of the wind investment," Fehrman said.
"The beauty of wind is there's no fuel costs," he said.
MidAmerican's rates have increased only once since 1998 and are the ninth-lowest nationally, Fehrman said. "There's not another utility in the country—gas, water, cable, electric—that's held rates steady for 12, 13 years."
According to Fehrman, the company's goal is to eventually reach 100 percent renewables, which would require at least another $2 billion and 550 turbines.
"It would set a new precedent for the U.S.," Daniel Shurey, an analyst at Bloomberg New Energy Finance, told the Register. "It will require a company that really knows what it's doing."
"It will be challenging for them to provide security of supply, and that's not something MidAmerican will take lightly," Shurey said.
The Wind XI project, which the Iowa Utilities Board approved in August, is expected to power 800,000 homes once completed by the end of 2019.
Iowa, one of the top U.S. states in wind power generation, already runs on more than one-third wind energy.
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
By Carey Gillam
For the last five years, Chris Stevick has helped his wife Elaine in her battle against a vicious type of cancer that the couple believes was caused by Elaine's repeated use of Monsanto's Roundup herbicide around a California property the couple owned. Now the roles are reversed as Elaine must help Chris face his own cancer.
The last 50 years have been brutal for wildlife. Animals have lost their habitats and seen their numbers plummet. Now a new report from a British conservation group warns that habitat destruction and increased pesticide use has on a trajectory for an "insect apocalypse," which will have dire consequences for humans and all life on Earth, as The Guardian reported.
By Jake Johnson
A Greenpeace report released Tuesday uses a hypothetical "Smart Supermarket" that has done away with environmentally damaging single-use plastics to outline a possible future in which the world's oceans and communities are free of bags, bottles, packaging and other harmful plastic pollutants.
By Irene Banos Ruiz
Pediatricians in New Delhi, India, say children's lungs are no longer pink, but black.
Our warming planet is already impacting the health of the world's children and will shape the future of an entire generation if we fail to limit global warming to well below 2 degrees Celsius (35.6°F), the 2019 Lancet Countdown Report on health and climate change shows.