MidAmerican Energy publicly announced plans to build the largest land-based wind-energy project in the world in Iowa a month before Mr. Vilsack signed legislation authorizing a boost in energy production from renewable sources from 200 to more than 1,000 megawatts, records show.
“MidAmerican applauds the leadership of Governor Vilsack and the strong bipartisan support of the Iowa Legislature,” Greg Abel, president of MidAmerican Energy Holdings Co., said at the time.
Construction at the site was completed in January 2005 and is now known as the Storm Lake Wind Farm project.
A 2004 report by the Center for Innovation and the Environment at the Progressive Policy Institute (PPI) and the Iowa Department of Natural Resources said Mr. Vilsack encouraged lawmakers in his January 2003 State of the State address to boost energy production from renewable sources from 200 to 1,000 megawatts per year by the end of the decade.
“When MidAmerican subsequently came forward with its proposal to develop the massive wind farm, their business plan and the governor’s vision to become a net energy exporter all fit together,” the report said.
In exchange for the new law, MidAmerican agreed to freeze its electric rates through 2010.
After dropping out of the president race in February, Mr. Vilsack vigorously campaigned for Mr. Obama, promoting their common ideas on renewable energy and rural growth.
It is unclear what consulting work Mr. Vilsack did for MidAmerican or what efforts he made on behalf of the company. He has referred to the firm as “the No. 1 regulated utility owner of wind energy installations in the nation.”
He also told enerG Magazine the company’s ability to “invest in new electric generation facilities while continuing to hold the line on electric rates has a huge impact on the energy security of our state.”
The confirmation hearing before the Senate Agriculture Committee will be chaired by Sen. Tom Harkin, Iowa Democrat, who has said he expected a rapid confirmation of his home state’s former governor.
Mr. Vilsack, a lawyer, also is a partner and head of the trial department at the Des Moines offices of Dorsey & Whitney, an international law firm that received more than $4.9 million since 1998 in lobbying fees, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, a nonpartisan group that tracks political money.
The firm said Mr. Vilsack’s practice focuses on strategic counseling and advising clients in the fields of energy conservation, renewable energy and agribusiness development.
According to Federal Election Commission records, all five directors at the holding company contributed to Mr. Vilsack’s 2008 presidential campaign, giving a total of $10,300. Another 18 employees contributed, bringing the total donations to nearly $30,000.
Four of the five board members at the Iowa subsidiary also contributed $3,150 to Mr. Vilsack’s presidential campaign, as did the MidAmerican Energy Co. Executive Political Action Committee, which donated $5,000 to Mr. Vilsack’s presidential bid.
Jerry Seper is the investigative editor for The Washington Times.
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