Iowa Utilities Board approves coal plant (with conditions)

I'll have more to say on this later tonight, but for now I'm posting the press release I just got from the Iowa Environmental Council.

For Immediate Release: April 30, 2008

IUB Approves Dirty Coal Plant for Marshalltown

The Iowa Utilities Board said "yes," with conditions, Wednesday to a proposal by Alliant Energy to build a 630 to 660 megawatt coal-fired power plant in Marshalltown, Iowa.

"We are disappointed that the Iowa Utilities Board and Alliant Energy are moving Iowa's energy policy backwards with a dirty coal plant. This coal plant is simply the wrong choice for Iowa's economy and our environment. When other states are saying no to coal plants, Iowa is risking its future as a renewable energy leader by betting on this imported and outdated energy source," said Nathaniel Baer, energy program director for the Iowa Environmental Council.

Clean air advocates say mercury, carbon and other air pollutants still don't have to be Iowa's legacy as today's IUB decision is only a first step in a decision-making process over this proposal, which includes additional decisions by the Board and by the Iowa Department of Natural Resources.

The Iowa Environmental Council, Community Energy Solutions, Iowa Chapter of Physicians for Social Responsibility, Iowa Farmers Union and Iowa Renewable Energy Association were represented by the public interest law firm Plains Justice in a proceeding at the Iowa Utilities Board regarding approval of the proposal. In briefs and in testimony before the IUB, Plains Justice maintained that clean energy sources like wind and energy efficiency could meet the energy needs of Iowa consumers at a lower cost, and with considerably less environmental impact, than the proposed coal plant.

The IUB approval was conditional: Three conditions must be met as follows...

1.      The coal plant must co-fire five percent biomass within the first two years of the plant's operation, and 10 percent biomass must be co-fired by the fifth year of operation.

2.      Alliant's energy mix must include 10 percent renewable energy by 2013 and increase one percent each year for the following 15 years, to reach a total renewable energy portfolio of  25 percent by 2028.

3.      The Iowa Utilities Board will have authority to require Alliant to install carbon capture and sequestration technology at the plant when it becomes feasible.

"Despite the final decision, we appreciate the Board's thorough consideration of the many risks that this proposal brings. The Board's three conditions for use of biomass, renewable energy, and future carbon capture technology may help to offset some of these significant risks, but we'll need to look at these conditions in more detail. We look forward to being engaged in the coming steps of this process," said Baer.

n  End

For interviews, call Nathaniel Baer, 515-244-1194, extension 206.

  • Culver has the power to shut this down

    I think that is the only way to stop this plant from getting built.  Gov. Sebelius stopped 2 coal plants from being built in Kansas.

    Culver has campaigned on making Iowa into the renewable energy capital of the world and creating the Iowa Power Fund, but he and Patty Judge have supported this plant from behind the scenes all along.  

    • that's a last resort

      The DNR could shut down this project by denying the air permit.

      Also, I believe Alliant will have to go back to the IUB over some issues like metering or what they will charge consumers. Theoretically, the IUB could reject Alliant's proposal on that, and Alliant could decide that building this plant is not economically viable.

      Failing that, it will be up to Culver to show that he is serious about implementing a forward-thinking energy policy.

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