US utility group Alliant Energy has secured approval from regulators in Iowa for its utility there – Interstate Power and Light – to double its 500MW wind expansion plans in the state, with all 1GW set to be operating by 2020.
Alliant received approval from regulators in 2016 to build and own 500MW of Iowa wind, and last year asked to double that figure to take advantage of the production tax credit before it expires. The utility now has full approval to proceed with its $1.8bn Iowa investment.
In late 2017, Alliant acquired the 300MW Upland Prairie and 170MW English Farms wind projects from developers Apex Clean Energy and Tradewind Energy, fleshing out its pipeline for the 1GW target.
Upland Prairie entered construction recently in northwest Iowa, while English Farms will enter construction later this year. Regulators have imposed a cost cap of $1,780/kW on both projects, including transmission costs.
“Wind energy is a major part of our transition to a clean energy future,” says Doug Kopp, president of Interstate Power and Light. “Our wind energy initiatives help keep rates competitive, enhance our environmental stewardship and drive economic growth in our communities.”
As a regulated utility operating as a monopoly in parts of the state, Interstate Power Light requires sign-off on its investments from the Iowa Utilities Board.
Interstate Power and Light is the second largest utility in Iowa, after MidAmerican Energy. MidAmerican, owned by Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway conglomerate, is currently building 2GW of wind in Iowa under its Wind XI programme.
Alliant’s wind investments are part of a broader trend of US investor-owned utilities looking to own and operate their own renewables projects, as opposed to signing off-take deals with independent generators. Many analysts expect that trend to continue even after the wind PTC and solar ITC phase down.
Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Energy surpassed Xcel Energy in 2017 to become the top-ranked US investor-owned utility group for wind power on its system, with 6.8GW either owned or under contract, according to the latest figures from the American Wind Energy Association.
Rounding out the top-five utilities on that list are Southern California Edison, American Electric Power, and Westar.
American Electric Power would surpass Southern California Edison to take the number three spot if regulators approve its 2GW Wind Catcher Energy Connection project in Oklahoma.
Originally appeared in Utility Alliant Energy gets nod for 500MW Iowa wind expansion – Shop Awesome Deals