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Wind Deal Celebrated in Lee County

Several hundred people attended a ceremony in Lee County to celebrate what is being called the "World's Largest On-Shore Wind Turbine Order."

Mid-American Energy has hired Siemens Energy to produce 450 wind turbines.

Mid-American Energy is developing five wind-farms in Iowa over the next two years.

CEO/President Bill Fehrman says one such project, the 44-megawatt Vienna II project in Marshall County, is already up and running, complete with Siemens-produced equipment.

"We are thrilled to be doing this in the state of Iowa and we are thrilled to be partnering with Siemens as we go forward with this expansion," says Fehrman.  "We cannot think of a better organization to work with."

Fehrman says about half of the 1,050 megawatt project will be completed in 2014 with the rest set to come online in 2015.

Siemens employees listen to the big announcement about a project with Mid-American Energy.

Mid-American Energy says the sites should produce enough energy to power more than 300,000 homes.

The blades are being built in Siemens' Fort Madison plant while other components are being produced at the company's plant in Hutchison, Kansas.  A firm out of Wisconsin will build the towers.

Mark Albenze is CEO of Siemens Energy Wind Power Americas.

He says this announcement will have a major impact on southeast Iowa.

"This order impacts more than just the Fort Madison facility," says Albenze.  "You could say that for every Siemens job here, this order creates 3.2 additional jobs in direct, indirect and induced functions."

Albenze says at this point, Siemens will maintain its current workforce of roughly 500 in Fort Madison.

Mid-American Energy says the project should create about 1,000 construction jobs and 40 permanent jobs across the state.

Governor Terry Branstad (R-Iowa)

Iowa Governor Terry Branstad says the $1.9-billion dollar investment is the largest in the history of his state.

"So it is an exciting day for Siemens, it is an exciting day for Mid-American Energy, and an exciting day for Iowa," says Branstad, adding "It's a win-win-win-wind."

The roughly 30-minute ceremony featured guided tours of Siemens' plant in Fort Madison, two giant television monitors, a virtual ribbon-cutting and a confetti cannon to mark the occasion.

Jason Parrott is a former reporter at Tri States Public Radio.