Regulatory Actions to Shape Iowa’s Energy Future An update from IEC staff attorney, Michael Schmidt
IEC regularly engages at the Iowa Utilities Board, from rule making comments to contested rate cases. This summer, IEC has taken on more than usual.
IEC and partners are appealing a decision by the Board approving MidAmerican’s coal plant emissions plan and budget. The appeal is in Polk County District Court and oral arguments are scheduled for early October. The petition for judicial review argues that the Board ignored evidence showing MidAmerican coal plants should retire by misinterpreting the law.
Several large solar projects are seeking approval from the Board and the Board has rejected a new approach from MidAmerican that would allow MidAmerican to add new generation without looking at the overall generation fleet and ensuring all customers benefit from renewable additions. On top of that, the Board has initiated three significant investigations recently:
– The Board is requiring MidAmerican to provide information on its long-term plans for electric generation. Unlike most big utilities around the country (including Alliant), MidAmerican has not announced retirement dates for its coal plants. IEC and partners will be following this closely to see if MidAmerican’s plans are in the best interest of customers and the climate, given the large amount of dirty and expensive coal that MidAmerican still runs.
– The Board requested input on the idea of a statewide electric transmission plan. Iowa’s road to 100% renewable energy will require more wind and solar, which means more transmission lines to carry the energy. It is unclear how the Board will navigate through the federal oversight of transmission lines between states.
– The Board is also reviewing information about MidAmerican’s revenue sharing, under which most excess profits are returned to customers. Due in part to the administrative procedure MidAmerican used to add wind generation that now provides almost 60% of Iowa’s energy, the Board is reviewing whether the revenue sharing program makes sense in the long-term.
The outcome of these actions can shape Iowa’s future for clean energy. Will we continue to rely on old approaches that pollute our air and water? Or will we continue to lead the nation toward 100% renewable energy, developing more wind and solar? IEC will continue to advocate for more clean energy that helps Iowans and the climate.
IEC Releases New Wind Blade Recycling Fact Sheet
In 2020, Iowa reached an impressive clean energy milestone, now producing the highest percentage of electricity by wind of any state, at nearly 60%. That achievement has come with some scrutiny from opponents of wind energy, who often point to the lifespan of turbine blades, and their lack of recycling options.
In response to this discourse, IEC recently compiled a fact sheet titled, "Perspectives on Waste: Wind Turbine Blades" to shed light on the facts about wind energy waste in our state. In reality, every energy source produces some degree of waste, but wind turbines produce significantly less solid waste and no harmful pollution.
Guest Blog: Bring
More Electric School
Buses to Iowa
"My children’s lungs and overall health were actually being affected – over the course of 12 years - both inside the school bus they rode, and outside, as they waited in line breathing in diesel emissions from idling buses during the colder months of the year," writes Karin Stein, leader of the Iowa chapter of Moms Clean Air Force & their Ecomades program.
Read more in her full IEC guest blog where she discusses the opportunity Congress has to transition Iowa's school bus fleet from diesel to electric engines, and the health and financial benefits that could come along with the switch.
IEC Weighs in on Clean Energy Job Demand
Earlier this month, IEC's Energy Outreach Manager Jordan Oster had the chance to share insights on Iowa's increasing demand for clean energy jobs during an interview with WHO 13 News.
"We’ve seen coal plant retirements across the state and wind is picking up the slack," said Jordan Oster of the Iowa Environment Council, a coalition of groups and individuals within the state focused on environmental quality.
Demand for wind technicians often outplaces supply, with the field representing of one of the fastest-growing occupations in the U.S according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
The science is clear — our climate is changing, and we need Congress to act now to help build a more equitable and resilient future for all Iowans. Extreme weather events such as flooding, heat, and drought affect all corners of our state. Now more than ever, Congress needs to come together to strengthen investments in our state's clean energy and natural infrastructure projects. Washington is considering action now, so don’t delay. Visit our action alert page now to use our quick and easy form to connect with your lawmakers today.
Upcoming Energy Events and Activities
IEC is excited to kick off the inaugural Iowa Gives Green fundraiser next Wednesday, August 4! This is a day for Iowans to unite in their support for Iowa’s environment. Similar to Giving Tuesday, IEC hopes that this day will inspire gifts of support for nonprofit organizations across the state doing great work to protect Iowa’s rivers, plant trees, protect prairie and other natural landscapes, advocate for clean energy, and so much more.
Visit IowaGivesGreen.org to see the partnering organizations. We hope you'll consider supporting IEC for Iowa Gives Green to help us meet our matching gift of $2,500! You can give now or on August 4 to help us make our goal.
Register today to join us Wednesday, August 18 at 11:30 AM for the second webinar in a three-part series looking at the impacts of excess coal generation in Iowa.
Unlike renewable generation, all fossil electricity generation impacts Iowa’s environment. Coal generation degrades our air, drives climate change, and affects the yields of the crops our farmers grow in the state.
Join us on August 18 to learn more about these impacts and what the future of energy generation in Iowa can look like.
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