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Warren Buffett boosts Iowa wind

Berkshire Hathaway-owned subsidiary goes big for wind in Iowa, inks deal with Siemens as turbine provider.

Siemens wind turbines at the Farr Wind Farm located near Inverness, Scotland. Siemens

MidAmerican Energy plans to install 593 megawatts worth of wind power in Iowa, the company announced yesterday.

The Des Moines, Iowa-based company is a subsidiary of MidAmerican Energy Holdings, which itself is a listed subsidiary of Warren Buffett's holding company Berkshire Hathaway. About 89 percent of MidAmerican Energy Holdings is owned by Berkshire Hathaway, a MidAmerican spokeswoman told the Associated Press.

MidAmerican Energy has signed a deal with Siemens Energy to provide the wind turbines for the project, which will consist of 258 of Siemens' giant 2.3-megawatt wind turbines installed throughout several counties in Iowa by the end of 2011.

When complete, the wind turbines will generate enough electricity to power 190,000 homes, according to MidAmerican Energy.

As with many ubersized wind projects, the MidAmerican wind complex will be a series of grid-connected wind turbines hosted by landowners rather than one wind farm concentrated to a single geographical location.

In addition to the Siemens 2011 installation plans, MidAmerican Energy has signed an asset purchase agreement with RPM Access to buy its Laurel Wind Farm. The Laurel Wind Farm is expected to use 52 Siemens turbines when complete, according to the company.

MidAmerican Energy, which claims to have added alternative energy sources to its repertoire without raising customer rates, already has 1,284 megawatts worth of wind generation. With the addition of the Siemens turbines, the company reports that more than 25 percent of its energy will be generated from wind.

But not everyone is happy with the prospect of adding even more wind energy to the region.

As a result of the increase in wind energy scattered throughout not just Iowa but much of the Midwest from several energy companies, a new transmission line that could carry electricity from the Midwest to the eastern half of the U.S. has been proposed as part of the federal government's attempt to overhaul and modernize the nation's electric grid.

The transmission line, which is still in preliminary stages but appears to have federal backing, could cost up to $30 billion long-term. Many utilities and regulators are concerned about the possibility that they may each be legally forced to pay for a portion of the proposed 765-kilovolt transmission line if it gets approved, according to reports from the Des Moines Register.