Make utilities do more to save energy

Alliant Energy, which has an Iowa branch called Interstate Power and Light, wants to build a coal-fired power plant in Marshalltown. The utility claims the new plant will be needed to meet energy demand.

However, expert testimony submitted to the Iowa Utilities Board suggests that Alliant/Interstate Power and Light could be doing much more to promote energy efficiency, which is more cost-effective than building new power plants.

Last Friday,

the Iowa Environmental Council, the Sierra Club and the Environmental Law and Policy Center submitted testimony to the Iowa Utilities Board, by expert witness, Geoff Crandall of MSB Energy Associates, detailing ways to improve the Alliant Energy Efficiency plan.

The details are in the full text of the press release from the Iowa Environmental Council, which I have posted after the jump.

The big problem, according to Nathaniel Baer, energy program director for the Iowa Environmental Council, is this: “Alliant significantly underutilizes energy efficiency measures, as the plan proposes to achieve less than half of the cost-effective potential they, themselves identified as available.”

At this blog I’ve focused on environmental and health reasons not to build more coal-fired power plants, but Baer points out that consumers will also pay more for electricity from new sources of generation. Energy-saving measures are more economical.

The expert testimony submitted by the Iowa Environmental Council, the Sierra Club and the Environmental Law and Policy Center complements expert testimony filed with the Iowa Utilities Board the same day by Plains Justice on behalf of several grassroots groups. That testimony concluded that “IPL has exaggerated costs and underestimated potential for its efficiency programs.”

I am grateful to all of the non-profit groups that are making this case to the Iowa Utilities Board.

At the same time, I wish the Iowa Utilities Board had rejected the application to build the Marshalltown plant. If that had happened, these worthy non-profits could be spending their staff time and resources on other environmental and health problems facing Iowans.

Alliant Shortchanging Customers in Proposed Energy Efficiency Plan

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

September 2, 2008

Editors Contact:

Lynn Laws

Iowa Environmental Council

515-244-1194, x 210

Cell: 515-490-1428

lynnlaws@iaenvironment.org

While offering kudos for the positive aspects of Alliant Energy’s 2009 Energy Efficiency Plan, environmental advocates objected to Alliant Energy’s proposal to utilize only half of what they (Alliant) identified as possible.

“With energy prices high and Iowans facing a tough economy, Alliant needs to do everything possible to reduce energy costs through energy efficiency. Their proposal misses their own mark of what’s achievable,” said Nathaniel Baer, energy program director for the Iowa Environmental Council.

The Iowa Environmental Council, the Sierra Club and the Environmental Law and Policy Center submitted testimony Friday responding to Alliant Energy’s Energy Efficiency Plan for 2009-2013. Under Iowa law, public gas and electric utilities, including investor-owned utilities, like MidAmerican Energy and Alliant Energy, must create comprehensive plans for energy efficiency for all types of customers. The Iowa Utilities Board must approve these plans, with input from stakeholders provided in a formal proceeding before the Board.

“There are some bright spots in the plan. Alliant is proposing a first-of-its-kind renewable energy program that will help customers put up solar panels and wind turbines. Alliant also proposes to help customers build next-generation LEED certified green buildings. We’re recommending that the IUB approve these portions of the plan,” Baer said.

But Baer says that’s less than par for what is achievable with today’s technology.

“Alliant significantly underutilizes energy efficiency measures, as the plan proposes to achieve less than half of the cost-effective potential they, themselves identified as available,” Baer said.

“Alliant has instead proposed to build new sources of generation, such as a coal plant in Marshalltown, which will lead to higher consumer rates than if they took advantage of more energy saving opportunities,” Baer added.

That’s why, on Friday, the Iowa Environmental Council, the Sierra Club and the Environmental Law and Policy Center submitted testimony to the Iowa Utilities Board, by expert witness, Geoff Crandall of MSB Energy Associates, detailing ways to improve the Alliant Energy Efficiency plan:

–          Alliant should revise the entire plan to achieve a much higher level of savings for its customers – such as saving 1.5% of its annual sales with energy efficiency.

–          Alliant must account for recent changes in federal law, which should allow it to achieve higher levels of savings from energy efficiency. New federal legislation, signed into law last December, will help bring more efficient light bulbs and appliances to market and is expected to lower their costs. This may help Alliant achieve more savings.

–          Alliant should initiate a pilot program for solid state lighting, also known as light emitting diode or L.E.D. bulbs.

–          Alliant should expand its public education activities, with a focus on reducing energy consumption from home entertainment systems.

–          The Iowa Utilities Board should create an ongoing stakeholder work group to help improve the plan and oversee its implementation.

“With the threat of global warming so dire and the near certainty of future carbon restrictions, it is inconceivable that Alliant would leave so much cost-effective energy efficiency on the table,” said Wally Taylor, an attorney with the Sierra Club.

Alliant is also known in Iowa as Interstate Power & Light (IPL).

— end —

Interviews and a copy of the testimony submitted to the IUB are available by calling:

Nathaniel Baer

Energy Program Director

Iowa Environmental Council

319-321-8449, x 206

Wally Taylor

Attorney for Sierra Club, Iowa Chapter

319-366-2428

Lynn Laws

Communications Director

Iowa Environmental Council

515-244-1194, ext 210

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