Wind energy decision could mean rate increase for you

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The Iowa Supreme Court cleared the way for MidAmerican Energy to nearly double its wind power generation and to raise customer rates to help pay for the expansion.

The 5-0 decision came Friday, June 8, 2012.

It upholds a previous decision by the Iowa Utilities Board that was challenged by NextEra Energy Resources.  NextEra said the utilities board decision gave an unfair advantage to MidAmerican Energy over other producers. 

The expansion approved by the state’s utilities board allows MidAmerican to add 1,001 megawatts of wind energy by 2013.  The company estimates the average residential bill would increast by $3.63 per month to help cover the expansion costs.

Justice David Wiggins wrote the majority opinion, saying MidAmerican’s expansion would only have a minor impact on the overall wind energy market and that any perceived advantage would be outweighed by benefit to customers.  Those benefits reportedly include wind energy helping the company maintain reasonable prices for its customers and reduced carbon emissions.

Who they are:

NextEra is the largest generator of wind and solar power in North America.  The company is headquartered in Florida and says it operates more than 100 facilities in 22 states, including Iowa.

MidAmerican Energy says it owns more wind-powered capacity than any other rate-regulated utility in the U.S.  By the end of 2012, the company will complete five additional wind energy projects and about 29 percent of its total generation capacity will be powered by wind.