Climate-centered federal funding opportunities renew optimism in the year ahead for Iowans
IEC's energy program director Kerri Johannsen reflects on the passage of the Inflation Reduction Act, and the tools Iowans can leverage to navigate new opportunities created by the law to access clean energy and its benefits.
The Iowa Environmental Council is excited to launch our newest resource, the Iowa Energy & Infrastructure Funding Hub. This website has been months in the making and will assist businesses, nonprofits, communities, and individual Iowans with finding information about the programs and incentives newly available to gain access to affordable, clean energy, lower energy costs, and make homes safer and more comfortable. We are celebrating this launch as the next phase of a process that was already a long time coming. The site covers programs passed through both the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) and the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA).
This is not a short-term investment in transformation, but a decade-long directional shift that will drive innovation, markets, and improve our air, water, and quality of life as we invest in what is needed to move forward on a real path toward tackling the climate crisis. That transition must include not only quickly ramping down climate pollution in favor of cleaner alternatives, but buffering people and communities from the risks that come with a quick transition.
The IRA was intended to be transformational. Change is hard, but it is essential at this moment. We must transition our electric sector away from fossil fuels by 2035 to enable other sectors like buildings and transportation to get to net-zero by 2050 and avoid the worst impacts of climate change. Iowa is already a national leader in wind energy; and more wind and a growing solar presence will mean more changes for local communities – some such as increased tax revenues, lease payments, and jobs – universally viewed as positive. Others, like changes to the expected landscape and competition for land use, present challenges that require respectful discussion and compromise. All Iowans must be part of this conversation.
Take a look at IEC's recently launched website, the Iowa Energy & Infrastructure Funding Hub
. The site provides information on key federal programs to assist Iowans across sectors. Some funding opportunities are available immediately, while additional tax credits, rebates, and grants will be available beginning in 2023. The site will be regularly updated with new details and deadlines, resources, and news stories about local projects and successes.
Renewable energy and robust transmission help provide security
A recent assessment indicated a slightly increased potential risk for energy emergencies during extreme cold-weather events this winter in the Midwest. In its rationale, uncertainty from coal retirements and reduced inventories of fossil fuels were cited.
Former chair of the Iowa Utilities Board, Libby Jacobs, and Clean Grid Alliance consultant, Natalie McIntire, push back on this narrative in a recent opinion piece, emphasizing that the supply of fossil fuels is more vulnerable to externalities like geo-political events such as the Ukraine war. "The addition of home-grown, affordable, clean, reliable, renewable energy such as wind, solar and storage, combined with investments in critical transmission infrastructure, is the best near-term way to increase reliability."
MidAmerican should pursue a balanced, coal-free portfolio in Wind PRIME
MidAmerican Energy's Wind PRIME proposal would add over 2,000 megawatts of wind and 50 megawatts of solar to its energy portfolio, but would also plan on keeping its five coal plants running in Iowa.
Katie Rock, campaign representative with the Sierra Club's Beyond Coal campaign, highlights the need to seek alternatives to this plan in a recent opinion piece. "This more balanced clean energy approach of focusing on adding battery storage and solar, in combination with coal retirements, could help MidAmerican move closer to meeting customer demand for 100% carbon-free energy, around the clock, today, while maintaining reliability and affordability." Read the full column here.
Watch Now: 12 Days of MidAm
Only those on the naughty list are supposed to get coal in their stocking, but all Iowans are getting a stocking stuffed with coal from MidAmerican this holiday season — and every holiday season until 2050. Special thanks to the Clean Up MidAm coalition members who helped write and perform a new "12 Days of MidAm" jingle, including Iowa Interfaith Power & Light, the Environmental Law & Policy Center, the Iowa Environmental Council and the Sierra Club.
While this video was fun to make, it underscores a serious and concerning issue — MidAmerican Energy is operating one of the largest coal fleets in the country while publicly touting a misleading 100% Renewable Energy vision. It's critical we educate Iowans about the truth, and put pressure on MidAm to get real about an actual plan to close coal by 2030. Watch the full video on YouTube.
It's been a memorable year for IEC! We've been able to host events around the state, bringing educational opportunities and entertainment to communities large and small. Your support makes all this possible.
From Environmental Advocacy Day to our inaugural Green Gala & Art Auction and everything in between, 2022 has been an impactful year for the energy program. Looking back, it's hard to believe all of the efforts our outstanding staff drove forward, making change to cut greenhouse gas emissions and clean up our energy system. We cannot wait to build on this momentum in the coming year. Iowans are ready to lead the way into a cleaner future.
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