MidAmerican Energy parent to invest $15 billion in renewables


(Don Graham / Flickr)
(Don Graham / Flickr)
KC McGinnis | July 28, 2015

The parent company for MidAmerican Energy has pledged to invest $15 billion in renewable energy construction and operation, in addition to another $15 billion already invested through 2014.

Berkshire Hathaway Energy, which acquired MidAmerican in 2000, recently joined twelve other behemoth U.S. companies including Coca-Cola, Microsoft and Walmart in the White House’s American Business Act on Climate Pledge, a partnership that aims to help the Obama administration reach its goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions economy-wide by 26-28% by 2025. The pledged investments would help Berkshire Hathaway expand its wind portfolio to 57% of its total retail energy load by 2017.

The company would also expand its investments in solar energy and, perhaps most importantly for Iowans, make infrastructure improvements that would help better integrate renewables into the existing power grid. Elsewhere in the country, Berkshire Hathaway plans to retire 75% of its energy produced from coal in Nevada by 75%.

Several of the companies that signed the pledge Monday have a significant Iowa presence, including Cargill and Google. Google boasts a 35% renewable energy rate for all of its operations, but hopes to reach 100% renewables. Cargill claims 16% energy efficiency gains since 2005, and aims to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions from beef production.

Mahaska County supervisors consider tax abatement for construction of wind farm


Nick Fetty | July 8, 2014
Wind turbines along Interstate 35 in Iowa. Photo by Brian Hoffman; Flickr
Wind turbines along Interstate 35 in Iowa.
Photo by Brian Hoffman; Flickr

During a meeting Monday, the Mahaska County Board of Supervisors discussed offering a tax abatement for a wind farm that RPM Access LLC hopes to build in Mahaska County.

The proposed abatement would reduce the level of taxation placed on RPM Access and Supervisor Mike Vander Molen said this abatement is necessary to make the project feasible. The $290 million project will be dependent upon all landowners involved in the proposal agreeing to sell their land and is expected to bring $60 million into the county over a 30-year span.

Per Iowa Code, the Board of Supervisors must wait 30 days before an ordinance can be adopted. This topic will be revisited during the board meeting on August 18. Construction on the wind farm may begin as early as 2016 and is expected to take about seven months to complete.

RPM Access has 13 projects in Iowa and one in Kansas. The De Soto-based company is also working with Facebook and Google on upcoming operations coming to the Hawkeye State.

German energy company to move North American headquarters to Iowa


Photo via Theodore Scott; Flickr
Photo via Theodore Scott; Flickr
Nick Fetty | May 29, 2014

Alternative energy opportunities available in Iowa have attracted yet another company to set up shop in the Hawkeye State, according to an article in the Des Moines Register.

Windtest – a German energy company – announced Wednesday that it plans to build its North American headquarters in the northern Iowa town of Estherville. The operation is expected to be completed by late August of this year and will initially create five jobs with hopes that the number will double in the coming years. This project will be in collaboration with Iowa Lakes Community College and will be housed in the Sustainable Energy Resource Technology building on campus.

Windtest is just the latest company to announce plans for an Iowa operation. Last year, Google announced that it plans to expand its data center in Council Bluffs while Facebook is pursuing plans to a construct a data center in the Des Moines suburb of Altoona. Microsoft also plans to build a data center in West Des Moines.

The abundance of wind power and other alternative energy sources have helped to attract these companies which will bring millions of dollars and dozens of jobs to Iowa’s economy. According to the American Wind Industry Association, Iowa is number one in the nation for percentage of electricity generated by wind energy (27.4%) and is third – behind Texas and California – in the amount of wind energy produced.

Google announces $75 million investment in central Iowa wind farm


Photo by cannellfan, Flickr.

Google announced today that it’s investing $75 million in a central Iowa wind farm that produces 50 megawatts of electricity – enough to power 15,000 homes.

According to Google spokeswoman Kate Hurowitz, the investment is part of an effort to “green the grid in regions where we operate.”

“Google has invested heavily in wind energy because it’s good for the environment and because it will provide a strong financial return,” Hurowitz said. “We believe the world needs a wide range of renewable energy technologies to build a clean energy future.”

For more information, read the full article at the Des Moines Register.

New hog waste technology out of North Carolina shows promise


Photo by ekornblut, Flickr

Three months ago, the Iowa Environmental Focus created a radio segment on recent environmental practices in hog waste management.

Yesterday, the Los Angeles Times posted an article on another hog waste management technique being used near Yadkinville, North Carolina.

With funding from Duke University and Google, a North Carolina hog farmer installed a waste-processing system that digests hog waste and converts the methane from the waste into electricity.

As a result of this waste-processing system the hog farm has less environmental impact, less odor, healthier hogs and a cheaper energy bill.

For the full article, click here.

Google to purchase solar panels for 3,000 homes


Photo by Earthworm, Flickr.

Google released a statement yesterday announcing that they would attribute $75 million to build solar panels on residential buildings.

Read more from the Associated Press below:

Google wants to buy solar panels for your house.

The search giant announced yesterday that it will provide $75 million to build 3,000 residential solar electricity systems across the country. Google will own the panels, and get paid over time by customers who purchase the electricity the panels produce. Continue reading