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Environmental groups applaud Iowa regulators' order to make public MidAmerican Energy's secret planning studies

Originally published on 1/25/23 in IEC's newsroom

On January 19, 2023, the Iowa Utilities Board issued an order in MidAmerican Energy’s Wind PRIME proceeding to make public two generation planning studies that MidAmerican has aggressively and repeatedly sought to keep secret from regulators and the public. The studies include an evaluation of the economics of MidAmerican’s coal generating facilities and a study of pathways to achieve zero carbon emissions electricity.

Several parties, including the Environmental Law & Policy Center, the Iowa Environmental Council, and the Sierra Club, argued the public deserves to see the studies to shed light on whether MidAmerican’s proposed $3.9 Billion Wind PRIME investment is reasonable compared to alternatives, such as additional solar and battery storage development or shuttering their six expensive and aging coal plants, which are massive sources of carbon dioxide and other pollution.  

After first refusing to provide the studies even to its own regulators, MidAmerican had provided the studies to the IUB and some parties in the case, but claimed the studies should be withheld from the public at large. IEC, ELPC, and Sierra Club challenged this attempt to keep the information a secret. The IUB agreed in their order last week that portions of the studies should be public. The order stated, in part, "It is difficult to imagine a more impactful decision to the Iowa ratepayers within MidAmerican’s monopoly service area than a multibillion-dollar, long-term capital investment strategy for the provision of electric generation assets." 

Iowa Energy News 

Iowa business to open facility in Fairfax to recycle wind turbine blades

A new Iowa business is opening a facility in Fairfax where it plans to recycle wind turbine blades, so they don’t end up in landfills. The company will convert the decommissioned wind turbine blades into reusable materials for use in the concrete and mortar industries.

"Recycling blades without using heat or chemicals while simultaneously keeping them out of landfills or being burned supports the sustainability goals of both the wind industry and customers receiving the recycled products," said Jeff Woods, a representative from the company.

The facility is expected to open in the second half of this year and is expected to be able to recycle more than 30,000 tons of shredded turbine blade materials per year.

As another winter storm strains the electric grid, it’s time to fix transmission, experts say

In late December, frigid temperatures across the US drove a surge in electric demand while also causing big problems for gas, coal, and other power plants that took electric generation offline just when it was needed most.

Michael Goggin, an electric industry expert who recently prepared a fact sheet on grid resiliency in Iowa, argued that this event highlights the need to grow our nation's transmission system to prepare for extreme weather in the future. 

Goggin also pointed out that while “extreme weather like this does affect all generation sources,” it appeared that renewables, which don’t need coal piles that can freeze or pipelines that can be curtailed by cold, largely fared well during the storm. Read the full story

Freedom, prosperity, and strength — why limiting solar in rural Iowa is a bad idea

Iowa's 2023 Legislative Session gaveled in on January 9 at the state Capitol. Much like last year, it's likely that bills aimed at severely limiting land available for the siting of renewable energy projects, like solar, will be brought forward. 

In a recent opinion piece, Andy Johnson with the Clean Energy Districts of Iowa, and Brian Krambeer with MiEnergy Cooperative, raise caution against limiting these opportunities for rural Iowans. 

"This opportunity is significantly enhanced through major new federal incentives . . . . If we don’t take advantage of these opportunities, it is certain our neighbors will, and why would we want to be the future tenants to renewable energy producers in other states when we could be the landlords here at home?"

Check our IEC's resource, the  Iowa Energy & Infrastructure Funding Hub. The site provides information on key federal programs to assist Iowans across sectors. Many new grants and tax credits became available in January of this year, and more incentives will become accessible later in 2023. The site will be regularly updated with new details and deadlines, resources, and news stories about local projects and successes.

Featured Video

Forecasting Our Future: Limiting greenhouse gas emissions

KCCI Channel 8 News sat down with IEC's energy program director Kerri Johannsen last month to discuss how climate change is impacting Iowa and how our state can address its greenhouse gas reductions. Watch the video on YouTube to get an in-depth look at how these impacts are creating new concerns, and see how communities are fighting back.

Visit our website to find more staff interviews and media contributions at IEC in the Press.

Upcoming IEC Events

Environmental Mixology

Environmental Mixology is back on Tuesday, March 7, this year! Join us in-person at xBk in Des Moines, or virtually from anywhere with an internet connection. If you like live music and mixed drinks, paired with exciting conversations and advocacy action, you should make plans to join us. Even better — right now we've got a special offer! Use code "2023" at registration for 10% off your ticket, good through the end of January!

Upcoming Energy Events

1/26 - Climate Action Call, Iowa IPL & Sierra Club 

1/30: Webinar: The Justice40 Initiative and Opportunities for Community Benefits, Emerald Cities Collaborative  

1/31-2/2: Midwest Energy Solutions Conference, MEEA 

2/2: REAP Solar Grants & Your Rural Business, Solar United Neighborhoods  

2/8: Charging Ahead: EV Summit, The Hill 

2/9: Energy Breakfast - Private Solar Investment Options, JCED 

2/9: Accelerating Black Leadership and Sustainability, City of Iowa City 

2/21-23: Midwest Climate Summit 

Have an relevant event we don't have listed here? Submit an event to be considered for our Event Calendar.

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Des Moines, Iowa 50309-2317

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