MidAmerican Energy Company's Wind PRIME Docket in Iowa

Sierra Club
Project Completed May 2023

Synapse supported Sierra Club, the Environmental Law and Policy Center, and Iowa Environmental Council (Environmental Intervenors) in the docket for MidAmerican Energy Company’s application for the Wind PRIME energy project before the Iowa Utilities Board. Synapse provided two rounds of written testimony, analytical support, modeling guidance, and testified in person at the hearing before the Iowa Utilities Board. Synapse’s analysis focused on (1) the Company’s plan to continue relying on its existing coal assets to support the build out of the proposed wind resources, and (2) the development of a lower-cost clean energy portfolio which retires MidAmerican’s coal fleet and meets new resource needs with renewables and battery storage. 

In the docket, MidAmerican sought approval for advanced ratemaking treatment for its Wind PRIME project. Wind PRIME consisted of 2,042 MW of new Wind and 50 MW of new solar PV and was intended to capture significant tax revenue from the pre-IRA tax credits available to wind and solar PV. Following passage of the IRA, MidAmerican updated its analysis and re-filed its application to show the updated tax revenue it expected from its project after the IRA. Synapse submitted one round of testimony prior to the passage of the IRA, and a second round after the passage of the IRA.

Synapse found that MidAmerican failed in both its initial and updated application to justify moving forward with Wind PRIME by demonstrating that its proposal to add 2,042 MW of new wind, 50 MW of new solar PV, and to continue relying on its existing coal fleet is reasonable compared to other feasible supply options. We also found that the Company had not used proper capacity expansion analysis to justify its proposal, and that contrary to company claims, the proposal was designed just to maximize tax revenues, and not to provide any real carbon reduction benefits. 

Synapse also supported Energy Futures Group in conducting EnCompass modeling to design a balanced portfolio that adds solar, wind, battery storage, and retires the fleet’s existing coal units. We found that this balanced portfolio costs over $120 million less, and provides more round-the-clock energy, than Wind PRIME.

The Commission issued its final order in the docket in April, 2023. In June, they issued an order granting reconsideration and rehearing in the docket.