MidAmerican Energy: Keeping the power on
MidAmerican spends first year at new home; Energy company settles into Decker Development Park
MidAmerican Energy Co. spent its first full year at its new home in 2019.
The Des Moines-based energy company became the first addition to Decker Development Park on the east side of Fort Dodge.
It also became the first new facility built under the MidAmerican Energy name.
The modern and spacious building became home to the company’s customer office and service center.
It consolidated multiple other facilities and departments under one roof, and according to Dave Ostheimer, manager of electric operations, the additional space was much needed.
“We came from around a 3,000-square-foot facility and a 4-acre lot and now we are in a 72,000-square-foot facility with a just under 20-acre lot,” Ostheimer said. “Effectively, we are pushing the limits of the building with what we have now, so you know we were crammed into what we had before. It has expanded us out to be able to function more effectively, more efficiently, and more safely. That’s the big key to me. It will allow us to better serve our customers in this area.”
The service center was located at 637 S. 22nd St. The customer office was located at 301 S. 25th St.
The 72,311-square-foot development includes an employee office, customer office, fitness center, welding shop and general shop, vehicle maintenance work space, indoor and outdoor material storage, truck storage and a vehicle wash. It was substantially completed in December 2018. Construction began in September 2017.
“The environmentally friendly facility incorporates a contemporary design that facilitates a smooth and efficient flow for customers and employees, and also encourages employee collaboration,” said Geoff Greenwood, MidAmerican media relations manager.
The facility serves more than 32,000 customers in the cities of Fort Dodge, Manson, Barnum, Badger, Otho, Burnside, Callender, Coalville, Kalo, Duncombe, Moorland and Clare.
Other MidAmerican service centers located in Algona, Emmetsburg, Humboldt, and Rockwell City, serve another 26,371 customers in Woolstock, Vincent, Eagle Grove, Goldfield, Holmes, Clarion, Thor, Hardy, Humboldt, Dakota City, Lu Verne, Livermore, St. Joseph, Bode, Bradgate, Rutland, Pioneer, Gilmore City, Algona, Wesley, Lone Rock, Fenton, Ringsted, Cylinder, Emmetsburg, Ruthven, Ayrshire, Palmer, Pomeroy, Jolley, Knierim, Somers, Rockwell City, Lohrville, Lytton, Lake City and Lanesboro.
According to Greenwood, almost 70 employees work out of the Fort Dodge facility. They work in assisting customers, gas and electric operations, gas service, electric operations, substation operations, natural gas and electric engineering, vehicle maintenance, and parts and equipment storage/logistics.
Greenwood said having one location is an advantage for both customers and employees.
“Our customers and business partners benefit because they can now handle all business with us at one location,” Greenwood said. “Our employees benefit because bringing them together into one location makes our local operation more efficient. Our employees now have more room to operate safely and effectively in a modern facility that’s designed for the work they do.”
Ostheimer, a native of Estherville, has worked for MidAmerican for 24 years. He started out as an engineer.
“I came from IES, another utility industry in the state,” Ostheimer said. “After being here for about 10 years, the opportunity came for me to move up.”
Ostheimer is responsible for the safety and well-being of employees at the Fort Dodge site.
“Making sure they are functioning safely and have all the tools and equipment to do the jobs to keep our customers in service,” he said.
Through the years, Ostheimer said the biggest change has been the company’s move to renewable energy.
“With the wind energy, the 100 percent renewable concept we are moving towards,” he said. “We are getting into the final legs of that to become 100 percent renewable in the energy we are providing to customers is coming from renewable sources.
Ostheimer added, “The process through putting up the wind farms, we have established that we are going to be able to provide all the energy our customers use through wind power through the year.”
According to Greenwood, MidAmerican is a recognized leader in the use of renewable energy.
“No other U.S. rate-regulated utility owns more wind-powered generation capacity,” Greenwood said.
The company began investing in sustainable energy in 2004.
“Our commitment to renewable wind energy continues in earnest today,” Greenwood said. “Our vision is to provide 100 percent renewable energy for our Iowa customers over the course of a year. We passed the halfway mark in 2017 by providing our Iowa customers with more than half of their electricity from renewable sources. Once we complete our latest wind energy project, which we expect to finish late next year, we’ll be positioned to deliver on our 100 percent renewable energy vision.”
MidAmerican’s winter retail electric rates were the ninth lowest in the United States, according to the Edson Electric Institute.
Greenwood said that association represents all U.S. investor-owned utilities.
The primary goal for MidAmerican is to provide uninterrupted service to customers, according to Ostheimer.
“Day in, day out, that’s what we strive for and aim for,” Ostheimer said. “When things go wrong, when the system goes down, that we are out there and that we get things back up and running as quickly and efficiently as possible to make it safe and comfortable for those customers.”
Des Moines-based MidAmerican Energy was formed in 1995 by the merger of the Iowa-Illinois Gas and Electric Company with Midwest Resources.
Midwest Resources was formed in 1992 by the merger of Iowa Power, formerly Iowa Power and Light, and Iowa Public Service Company.
MidAmerican is a subsidiary of Berkshire Hathaway Energy.
MidAmerican serves 770,000 electric customers and 751,000 natural gas customers in Iowa, Illinois, Nebraska and South Dakota. Its service area spans 10,600 square miles in four states.