The Marshalltown coal plant is dead

Here's some good news for the environment and public health:  

Interstate Power and Light on Thursday canceled plans for a $1.8 billion coal-fired power plant in Marshalltown, citing the economy and uncertainty over state regulations. [...]  

"At the end of the day it's economic condition, uncertainly regarding future regulatory and legislative treatment of environmental issues, meaning greenhouses gases," said spokesman Ryan Steensland.

Other factors were terms placed on the power plant by the Iowa Utilities Board, including a 10.1 return on equity for investors. "It would have made it very challenging to attract the capital necessary to build these types of investments. The cost and the return laid out by the board just did not wet the appetite of the investment community to move forward with this project," Steensland said.


Economic concerns prompted a different company to pull the plug on a proposed coal-fired power plant near Waterloo earlier this year.

Thanks to all the environmental and public-health advocates who have worked so hard for years to defeat both coal plants, including the Sierra Club, Plains Justice, the Iowa Environmental Council, Physicians for Social Responsibility, Community Energy Solutions, the Iowa Renewable Energy Association and Iowa Interfaith Power and Light.  

I am still annoyed that the Iowa Utilities Board approved an application to build the Marshalltown plant last spring, but at least the IUB's recent ratemaking decision helped doom the project.

Please disregard my action alert regarding public comments on the DNR's draft air quality permit for the Marshalltown plant.

UPDATE: At Century of the Common Iowan, noneed4thneed points out that the coal plant would have created 85 permanent jobs as well as providing a lot of temporary jobs during its construction. I sympathize with people who are upset about losing those jobs. However, I do not support making a 50-year investment in the wrong direction on energy production, which would also result in more respiratory illness, mercury pollution and higher utility bills for thousands of Iowans, all for the sake of some jobs in the Marshalltown area.  

  • re: economic concerns

    I don't have a dog in this fight, really...but there were a lot of good paying union jobs at stake with this plant.  I definitely understand, and am sympathetic, to the environmental concerns...But some discussion of the economics of it to hard working tradespeople would be great.

    • you're not the first to bring that up

      But there are many other construction projects that would create good union jobs without adversely affecting public health or greenhouse-gas emissions.

      In fact, there are lots of construction projects that would create good union jobs while improving public health or making buildings more energy-efficient.

      I am sympathetic to organized labor's position on most issues, but I feel it is short-sighted for unions to get behind new coal-fired power plants. The people living in or downwind of the communities with the coal-fired plants are more likely to have respiratory problems and babies affected by mercury poisoning.  

    • Alliant decision good for air and jobs

      Good paying jobs exist for clean, renewable energy production as well. And, despite what the Alliant press release might say, many hard working adults in the Marshalltown area did NOT want this plant, due to the health issues. Paying for treatment of heart disease, asthma and diabetes cuts into ones paycheck, too.

      • not to mention the fact

        that the Iowa Office of Consumer Advocate estimated that consumers would end up paying higher bills to cover the cost of building this plant. That would include all of Alliant's residential and business customers in the Marshalltown area.  

        • Not to mention

          the huge carbon cost risk this plant would have been for Iowa ratepayers.

  • Ding Dong, the Witch is Dead!

    As far as jobs, I'd rather dwell on the ones we have lost, i.e. Newton, Postville, West Union, Montezuma, Williamsburg, and on and on, than to bemoan jobs that never were.  

    Those temporary construction jobs and 85 permanent jobs in this economy, that wouldn't even begin to make a dent.

  • Embarrassing

    I click on this blog today to see people celebrating about jobs not being created and about people not being put back to work.


    This is a terrible decision - DesMoinesDem - what happens when in a few years we do not have the energy infrastructure to power the electric cars we need plus our homes etc?

    We better either start building coal or nuclear or both.

    Trying to stop both is not productive for Iowa's economy.

    • the best energy analysts

      do not agree that we will need new coal plants to meet future demand.

      Projections for future demand are being revised downward, which is largely why the Waterloo plant died.

      Energy efficiency costs far less than building a new power plant and is faster.

    • forgot to add that

      you may want to hang out at some other blog where people would cheer a project that would make a lot of kids and adults sick and would make hundreds of thousands of Iowans pay higher utility bills, all for the sake of 85 jobs.

      Fine particulate matter kills people, Bill. If someone you cared about lived downwind of this plant, maybe that would affect your opinion.

  • New IUB chair

    On a related topic, does anyone know about Rob Berntsen, Culver's pick to be the next IUB chair?  Not too encouraging that he's coming straight from a utility.   But I know nothing else about the man besides today's news articles, so I would be interested to learn more.

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