Environmental Efforts

Our Community
Midwestern U.S.
Locate and learn more about these projects within our community:

Tree-Planting Initiative

After running a pilot program in mid-2008, MidAmerican Energy introduced a permanent tree-planting program in February 2009 as an incentive for customers to sign up for electronic bill notification. The service enables customers to opt out of traditional paper billing and receive electronic bill notifications instead. Once enrolled, customers receive electronic notification when monthly statements are available for online viewing.

The main environmental benefit offered by electronic bill notification is paper saved by not printing bills. For each signup, MidAmerican Energy donates $1 to a tree-planting organization, and for every 35 signups, a 6- to 8-foot landscape-quality tree is planted on behalf of our customers. All donations are used to plant trees.

Trees are planted during the fall or spring within the states MidAmerican serves by Living Lands & Waters, a nonprofit organization based in East Moline, Ill., whose mission it is to aid in the protection, preservation and restoration of the natural environment.

To date, 23,884 trees have been planted as a result of this program.

Iowan Habitat Preservation

MidAmerican Energy, the Iowa-based utility, set aside 420 acres for an environmental preserve during the development of the Louisa Generating Station in Muscatine, Iowa. Since that time, Monsanto, an industrial neighbor, has added an additional 90 acres. Together, this area is known as the Big Sand Mound Nature Preserve. MidAmerican and Monsanto work together to maintain the natural state of the 510-acre preserve. The site is a diverse ecosystem of unusual plants and animals, rolling sandy hills, open prairie, woodlands and shallow ponds. Plants and animals of the preserve are more like those found in the Southwest United States, and the vegetation is well adapted to the dry, infertile sandy soil. More than 600 different plants have been identified on the site and, due to available habitat, a wide variety of unusual animals flourish.

An ecological advisory committee has been established and oversees the management of the preserve. The efforts of the committee focus on resource management, research, education and providing controlled access to the public. Educational tours are available to students and other groups upon request. In addition, the preserve is open to the public every three years for the Big Sand Mound Field Day. This one-day event includes walking tours and presentations that highlight the biological, archaeological and historical significance of the area.

Settling ponds for coal ash at two of MidAmerican's power plants provide successful nesting sites for two endangered bird species. The birds that now feel right at home at our facilities are the Piping Plover and the Least Tern. When the Missouri River was channeled, sandbars, which were the natural habitat of the two birds, were destroyed causing the endangered birds to give up nesting in Iowa. Today, the birds utilize the company's ash deposits which resemble sandbars. Both the Audubon Society and researchers from Iowa State University conduct periodic bird counts during the year to monitor the presence and nesting results of these unique birds. Iowa Audubon has designated these sites as Important Bird Areas, or IBAs.

Restoring Prairie Grasslands

MidAmerican has an important tie to and ongoing relationship with the Neal Smith National Wildlife Refuge. In the early 1970s, a predecessor company purchased 3,600 acres in Jasper County, near Prairie City, Iowa. The intended purpose of the property was for the construction of a nuclear power plant. By the 1980s, however, it was apparent the company would not proceed with additional nuclear power. About that same time, Iowa Congressman Neal Smith was promoting the idea of a wildlife refuge and prairie restoration project in central Iowa. A company vice president made MidAmerican's site near Prairie City available. The company joined with area conservation leaders, Congressman Smith and the U.S. Department of the Interior to secure the property and establish the refuge.

Congress formally approved the establishment of the Neal Smith National Wildlife Refuge in 1990. Since that time, MidAmerican has continued to support the project in a number of ways. In 1993, employees helped start the Friends of the Prairie Learning Center to support refuge activities. In 1996, MidAmerican's Energy Efficiency Design Award was presented to the Prairie Learning Center. The company also helped sponsor the refuge grand opening in 1997, which included former Vice President Al Gore's participation in the Neal Smith Prairie Learning Center dedication. Our employees continue to volunteer their time for a variety of stewardship activities. During the past decade, preserve work has centered on reconstructing the native tall grass prairie ecosystem, conducting research and providing environmental education. Preserve planners have introduced prairie burning as a management tool and reintroduced bison and elk. To learn more about the Neal Smith National Wildlife Refuge, visit www.tallgrass.org.

Hosting Peregrine Falcons

MidAmerican Energy facilities serve as hosts to peregrine falcons, a species on the threatened and endangered lists of Iowa, Illinois and South Dakota. In 2005, a pair of falcons successfully hatched four chicks in a nest box built for them on the stack of the Louisa Generating Station in Muscatine, Iowa. At the same time, two adult falcons called the Davenport, Iowa, office building home. MidAmerican has enjoyed the presence of these beautiful birds and helped them survive, thanks to the commitment of its employees.

Over the years, more than 50 employees have volunteered their time to build or install boxes, feed chicks, provide water or rescue chicks that are just learning to fly. MidAmerican works with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, the Iowa Falconer's Association and the Macbride Raptor Project to band the chicks so their progress can be monitored as they grow. More than 25 chicks have been successfully raised at MidAmerican facilities and returned to the wild.

Conserving Bats

More than half of the 45 species of bats in the United States and Canada are either endangered or candidates for such status. With many of the species on the decline, steps to help preserve the bat population in North America are well underway.

Northern Natural Gas partnered with Bat Conservation International and took part in the organization's Bat House Research project. As a participant, Northern Natural Gas constructed, installed and monitors bat houses at facilities near Redfield, Iowa, and in Ottawa County, Kan. During periodic inspections, the company monitors and notes information relating to the house location, surrounding habitat and any evidence that the bats have used the houses. Through this research, Bat Conservation International will be able to determine the best bat house designs and help maintain the bat population and their significant benefits to our agricultural communities.

Volunteering in Minnesota

In Minnesota, employees organized a volunteer workday to support the Minnesota Chapter of the Nature Conservancy. Employees chose to work at the Ottawa Bluffs Preserve, a 63-acre site located near St. Peter on the bluffs overlooking the Minnesota River. Northern Natural Gas employees spent the day hand-collecting tall grass seeds such as the purple prairie clover, lead plant, big and little blue stem grass, side oats and Indian grass. These seeds later were used to restore areas within the preserve.