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Nation’s Largest Wind Project Gets Approval

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Nation’s Largest Wind Project Gets Approval

The Iowa Utilities Board approved the nation's largest wind energy project, which will power 800,000 homes once completed.

Macksburg Wind ProjectMidAmerican Energy

The 2,000-megawatt Wind XI project should be completed by the end of 2019.

"Wind energy helps us keep prices stable and more affordable for customers, provides jobs and economic benefits for communities and the state, and contributes to a cleaner environment for everyone," said Bill Fehrman, the CEO of the utility behind the project.

Bruce Nilles, senior director for Sierra Club's Beyond Coal campaign, agrees. Nilles said in a statement:

"This is an amazing example of how the unstoppable transition towards a 100% clean energy economy is moving faster than many expected. This is a landmark moment not only for the burgeoning wind energy industry in Iowa, a state which already runs on more than one-third wind energy and employs thousands of hard-working Iowans, but for the entire nation, as the largest wind project ever approved in the country. Iowa and MidAmerican's rapid transition from dirty coal to affordable and renewable wind energy offers a clear path for utilities nationwide to make major strides towards 100% clean energy in a way that provides family-supporting jobs and without rate increases.

This also represents a huge leap forward for one of Warren Buffett's three utilities and is a model for how his other two can quickly follow suit, particularly Pacificorp, which operates the largest coal fleet in the West. We still have tremendous work to ensure that this transition keeps moving full speed ahead, but one thing is certain: with announcements like the one today, we aren't ever going back to dirty fossil fuels."

For a deeper dive:

News: AP, Quad Cities Online

For more climate change and clean energy news, you can follow Climate Nexus on Twitter and Facebook, and sign up for daily Hot News.

A plume of smoke from wildfires burning in the Angeles National Forest is seen from downtown Los Angeles on Aug. 29, 2009 in Los Angeles, California. Kevork Djansezian / Getty Images

California is bracing for rare January wildfires this week amid damaging Santa Ana winds coupled with unusually hot and dry winter weather.

High winds, gusting up to 80- to 90 miles per hour in some parts of the state, are expected to last through Wednesday evening. Nearly the entire state has been in a drought for months, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor, which, alongside summerlike temperatures, has left vegetation dry and flammable.

Utilities Southern California Edison and PG&E, which serves the central and northern portions of the state, warned it may preemptively shut off power to hundreds of thousands of customers to reduce the risk of electrical fires sparked by trees and branches falling on live power lines. The rare January fire conditions come on the heels of the worst wildfire season ever recorded in California, as climate change exacerbates the factors causing fires to be more frequent and severe.

California is also experiencing the most severe surge of COVID-19 cases since the beginning of the pandemic, with hospitals and ICUs over capacity and a stay-at-home order in place. Wildfire smoke can increase the risk of adverse health effects due to COVID, and evacuations forcing people to crowd into shelters could further spread the virus.

As reported by AccuWeather:

In the atmosphere, air flows from high to low pressure. The setup into Wednesday is like having two giant atmospheric fans working as a team with one pulling and the other pushing the air in the same direction.
Normally, mountains to the north and east of Los Angeles would protect the downtown which sits in a basin. However, with the assistance of the offshore storm, there will be areas of gusty winds even in the L.A. Basin. The winds may get strong enough in parts of the basin to break tree limbs and lead to sporadic power outages and sparks that could ignite fires.
"Typically, Santa Ana winds stay out of downtown Los Angeles and the L.A. Basin, but this time, conditions may set up just right to bring 30- to 40-mph wind gusts even in those typically calm condition areas," said AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Mike Doll.

For a deeper dive:

AP, LA Times, San Francisco Chronicle, Washington Post, Weather Channel, AccuWeather, New York Times, Slideshow: New York Times; Climate Signals Background: Wildfires, 2020 Western wildfire season

For more climate change and clean energy news, you can follow Climate Nexus on Twitter and Facebook, sign up for daily Hot News, and visit their news site, Nexus Media News.

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